Archive for June 2, 2009
Growing up I wasn’t allowed to watch very much television. My parents gave me the familiar spiel about how TV rots your brain and how I’d be better off reading a book or playing outside. However as an adult who has done more than her fair share of child-care for somebody that doesn’t actually have kids of her own I have realized that half the reason had to have been because most children’s programing is really effing annoying. I mean, have you ever seen Sponge Bob!? Some people love it, to me watching that show is like having a bad acid trip while locked in a room with a bunch of hyenas hell bent on clawing the flesh off your bones.
All those years that I thought my parent were being strict, loving, compassionate people who valued my intellectual curiosity and development so deeply that they didn’t want my childhood marred by advertising and junk culture, but in reality they probably just wanted my sister and I to turn off the tube so they could get some damn peace and quiet.
The moral of the story is that Kid Sister and I didn’t get to watch much TV so what we did get to watch we really had to make count. Although I probably only watched about an hour of TV a week as a kid, the shows I grew up on really did influence me. So here we go kids, the top TV shows that made little Fever who she is today:
Clarissa Explains It All
Oh how I shamelessly ripped off Clarissa’s fashion sense as a pre-teen. I remember watching the premiere and going straight up to my room to desperately try and reconstruct my unfortunate mid-90s wardrobe of over-sized flowered palazzo pants and puffy poet blouses into something cooler.
Clarissa’s life was everything a young Sassy reader like myself could possibly covet. She was an aspiring journalist (I soon after published “zines” with my friends that were xeroxed off of notebook paper and sent around via the mail. Back in the days of dial-up before every teen with an opinion had a blog with which to broadcast her every inner desire this was how we rolled, biotches!), with a hip, floppy haired best guy friend (OK, so at that age I made fun of any boy who approached me until he rolled up crying in an emasculated ball which is probably why I didn’t date much as a teen, but a girl could dream), and an awesomely decorated room (that boys were allowed in!) with a real life giant Swatch watch hanging on the wall. (Only the coolest of the cool kids had those giant Swatch watches, and I could never convince my parents to get me one.) What more could a child of the 90s ask for?
Sense of the Bizzare:
Just listening to the theme music on my shitty computer speakers makes my stomach churn deliciously in horror. It’s Friday night, circa 1997. My parent are out of town. What are my sister and I doing? We’re not hosting a kegger or sneaking boys into the house, we’re curled up in the dark in our suburban living room under grandma’s afghan watching the X Files and scaring the ever loving shit out of ourselves.
The Adventures of Pete & Pete
Most people’s first exposure to Godfather of Punk Iggy Pop might have been through a mix tape or a local college radio station. Mine was because of The Adventures of Pete and Pete, where he played Nona’s dad.
There were a million great cameos on Pete & Pete; Luscious Jackson played the school dance, Michael Stipe guest-starred as an ennui-ridden Popsicle man (let me know if I’m missing any others) but to me the real beauty of this show was it’s spot on portrayal of sibling relationships, first love, and the simple joys of growing up in the burbs.
Sick Sense of Humor:
Ren & Stimpy
When my sister was little I remember her kindergarten teacher telling my mom that bathroom humor was only a passing phase. Oh, how I know my mom wishes that were true. To this day I still can’t resist a good fart joke. I have no idea how such a demure woman gave birth to two such twisted individuals. Perhaps we were irrevocably warped by watching a show with a character called “Powdered Toast Man” who entreated his subjects to “cling tenaciously to his buttocks”. And of course, who could forget log?
Propensity for Loving Doomed Cult TV Shows:
Remember Eerie Indiana? Neither do most people. It was like a kiddie X-Files with a little Twilight Zone thrown in there for good measure. My sister and I couldn’t get enough of it which means of course it got cancelled after like two episodes. Fortunately, the show’s creators don’t seem too worried about copyright infringement, as there are plenty of full episodes up on You Tube.
Budding Liberal Idealist:
The Wonder Years
Is it just me, or is there very little the Baby Boomer generation loves more than reflecting back on itself? This might explain why The Wonder Years was one of the few shows my family watched together, even my relentlessly channel surfing dad was transfixed.
Aging hippies love regaling their punk ass kids with how tough ‘Nam really was and how groovy that Jefferson Airplane concert was. The Wonder Years gave the ‘rents a chance to re-live those times without my sister and I stomping off to our rooms, slamming the doors and blasting Pearl Jam.
The ironic thing was that as I followed Fred Savage’s character throughout that series I actually felt like I grew up with him, losing a bit of my innocence along the way. For those of us who grew up in the gay 90s when the future was bright and the culture wars of our parent’s time seemed archaic, The Wonder Years was eerily prophetic of the times to come. Just like Kevin Arnold, we watched our parents behave like hypocrites, screwed up our first real relationships and lost faith in our government. I don’t think our parents ever dreamed that we would inherit a world that would become just as tumultuous as it was in the 1960′s but here we are, arguably worse off than we were a generation ago. It’s enough to make a person want to protest. Or grow their hair real long, or quit their job and travel the country in a VW Bus. Except these days we’re getting fired from our jobs, everybody’s way too freaked out about the economy to notice that we’re losing a war and gas is too damn expensive to facilitate any epic road trip/life altering experiences. Thanks George Bush!
So there you have it, my top handful of influential programming. It’s not a bad lot, if I do say so myself. Maybe it’s even a good thing that I drew so much inspiration from TV instead of all the books I read. After all, it could have been worse. Thank Maude I never went through a Little House on the Prarie fashion phase.