Back in the day, my family used to watch TV shows together. Especially the prime time shows…Three’s Company, Wonder Woman, The Jeffersons, Love Boat, Seinfeld, Friends. All five of us, parents and three girls would gather around the sofa and laugh and laugh. Even my super serious and super cranky Dad! Saturday mornings were sacred for us kids. We watched shows like the Justice League, Buck Rogers, Scooby Doo…on Saturday mornings eating our Cocoa Puffs.
Nowadays, my kids watch YouTube, DVR TV shows and binge watch Netflix. It is such a different world. They are in constant virtual contact with their friends via group texts, FaceTime and social media. Everything they watch is ready and available and they don’t need to wait. I used to program our VCR for my favorite shows and MTV video premieres. I get it. But there are so many shows out there, that it is impossible to keep up with all of them. Some of my friends are addicted to Bravo, some to HBO and others to Netflix.
Luckily for us, my kids both recently discovered Stranger Things and The Office. So now, all four of us have a show that we can watch together (we fast forward the inappropriate teenager parts for my 10 yr old with Stranger Things). There is common ground and content that can work for the whole family. It takes a little bit of research and a lot of patience.
Reality television started in the early 90’s just like my relationship with my husband “B”. Back then, we both liked The Real World on MTV. It was new and different, just like B and me. We also liked the same things: parties, Santana, hip-hop, mexican food and any movie with DeNiro, Pacino, Jeff Bridges and Gene Hackman. Dinner and a movie was our thing.
During our twenties, we watched Seinfeld, Frasier and Absolutely Fabulous together. We lost interest in reality tv and were busy with our careers and grad school. During our thirties, before the kids were born, we didn’t miss an episode of The Brand of Brothers or The Sopranos. This is also when we discovered Asian cinema. First it was Zatoichi, then Kurosawa and all movies with Gong Li. Then our kids came along and I can’t remember what were watching those days except Dora, Little Einsteins and Spongebob.
People change as the years go by. B and I certainly did. I went back to watching reality television about five years ago. It started with one of the Housewives shows, I can’t remember which one. Along with many ladies in my neighborhood, I now watch all the Housewives shows and a few more Bravo shows. I can also admit to watching a lot of Masterpiece Theater…especially Downton Abbey. Of course B detests the Housewives and he is right. The shows are awful and obviously scripted…but I still watch. I really can’t explain why. Maybe they are a replacement to our mom’s soap operas in the eighties.
Poor B feels lost without his movie partner. He is very frustrated that I won’t watch Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones or the latest Hong Kong detective movie. But after having kids, watching gruesome and gratuitous violence is just not fun for me. We finally did find some shows we both like: The House of Cards, Mad Men and Bill Maher. So I watch my shows and he watches his shows but he still grumbles about it. At least I am not watching the Kardashians…