Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My parents had good taste in TV

Almost all the shows they liked while I was growing up are shows I'd still watch:
  • Black Adder
  • Northern Exposure
  • The Larry Sanders Show
  • Seinfeld
  • Get a Life
Etc. My mom was also into some genre-y shows I never watched (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Trek in its various incarnations) but the geeky masses seem to agree they're worthwhile.

My favorite TV show of all time is My So-Called Life. One of the few shows I can think of where my age at the actual time it was on lined up with the characters' (sophomores in high school). One thing I loved about it was that the characters wore the same items of clothing multiple times. Like, Angela had her favorite boots or her flannel shirt that she wore with different outfits. In this, among other ways, it was a cringe-inducingly realistic show.

Aside: I have yet to watch the full first season of Freaks & Geeks despite many, many recommendations because I watched the first few and was mightily offended at how much was borrowed from MSCL: essentially the whole structure of the show (kind of uncool, smart girl gets kind of cooler, tries to ditch old friends to make a play for the cool stoner crowd including hot badass figure (played by Jared Leto/James Franco), etc.)). I mean, what? Why do people talk about how great F&G is without mentioning in the same breath that it owes its existence to MSCL? The latter had already failed on the same concept despite a fierce following so I don't know what made anyone think F&G would succeed. Anyway maybe it gets better a few eps in (MSCL certainly does) but I was sorta unimpressed. That's hype for ya, folks. Which makes me wonder if I can ever watch The Wire. (Yeah, yeah, yeah. Save your breath.)

Anyway, Angela's mom was also very like mine (hence unlike any other, sunny sitcom mom; the mom in Calvin & Hobbes comes pretty close), in that she was overprotective and nosy and sensitive and hence annoying, but ultimately a really fucking good mom. Angela was often embarrassed of her parents but all her friends were jealous and wanted to hang out at her house all the time.

In the context of this blog post, TV and my mom are "tightly coupled."

My mom reads my blog, but I never censor what I say with that knowledge. I can use the F word and generally be a jerk and she still likes me. I mean, I came out of her womb, unconditional love and so on, but I get the feeling she actually likes my personality.

With no offense to either of my parents, I've noticed that they seem less discriminating about their entertainment as they get older. Like happy to watch Random Hollywood Blockbuster 2 just to get out of the house/heat and then describe the experience as "fun." Whereas they used to have a decided bent toward the quirky.

Do our tastes deteriorate as we get older, right along with our muscle tone and eyesight and tooth enamel? Is it voluntary or involuntary, i.e., taste is like a muscle one must clench all the time and eventually we get tired of it? Like we eventually lose interest in wearing hip happening clothes and just want to be comfortable? At what age does one throw up one's hands and give in to the latest courtroom drama?


  1. I, I can't even begin to explain to you why F&G is a far, far superior show than MSCL. I'm actually feeling a bit emotional/enraged as I type this. Here's what I can come up with, though:

    1. The superiority, then and now, of Franco to Leto. Besides, if you actually watched the show, you would know that it's nothing like the Angela/Jordan relationship.

    2. Um, geeks? Krakow does not a geek supergroup make.

    3. Biff explaining the facts of life. (Just watch the damn show, damn it!)

    4. I hated, hated, hated the parents on MSCL. Yes, getting your haircut is a big. deal. when you're 15. As a grown woman, not so much. On the other hand, the F&G parents are funny and awesome and I love them.

    5. Kim Kelly would kick Raynne's ass. That is all.

  2. Is Kim Kelly the big rude blonde? If so, recognizing that actress from Felicity kind of ruined her for me.

    While I agree that Franco is now far hotter than Leto, I can't believe you're suggesting that Jared Leto was anything less than The Hottest Thing Alive when that show was on. Do you have ovaries woman?!!!

  3. Anyway, (we'll let the Franco/Leto debate slide, although I admit my opinion may be tainted by recent events) that was me responding to the least interesting point of your post. Onto other issues...

    I don't know if my tastes are deteriorating, but I am distracted by my lack of interest in attending the movies. I used to go to the movies constantly (film school geek and all), and I would have rather died than miss the latest hot thing. Now, it's not so much that I don't care about missing something great, but I'm actively disinterested in what's playing for months at a time. I spend an inordinate amount of time wondering if I'm getting lazy, or if, as has been claimed, "They don't make 'em like they used to" (i.e. 1999). Instead, I'd rather Netflix TV shows (good ones, I swear).

    So, I'm off to watch "Mad Men," and I will later describe that experience as "fun."

  4. Same here! I used to fancy myself a movie buff and was chillingly competitive in Oscar pools, as you probably recall. When I stopped watching TV (except for on DVD occasionally and at the gym), I stopped seeing movie trailers, so I never knew what was out. Consequently my desire to go see movies died away. So I think partly, it's all an interconnected media-driven addiction machine.

    But also, I think movies started blowing pretty hard right around the time that Shakespeare in Love won an Oscar. Holy Christ! The 2000s have been horrible for movies.

  5. Hmmm, maybe, but I wonder if it's just that as you get older your snobbery levels actually dissipate. In college, to have espoused the wrong movie/band/aesthetic/movement would have marked you as a complete social outcast, a malfeasant whom no one of merit would take seriously, but after you've been out in the world for a while, you may be able to just admit to yourself that you are a Hootie & the Blowfish fan, that you think "Finding Nemo" is incredibly entertaining, and that you'd rather look at Renoir than Rothko.

    What I mean is: once you have a job, and pay your bills, and etcetera, you may have created for yourself a little boat of self-worth that is tied up in that and not in the approval of a small coterie of aesthetic cadres. Paradoxically, as your life becomes ever more fettered with "real world" responsibilities, your power to express your heartfelt responses to entertainment becomesmore free. And as a result, you may actually become part of the reason why Hollywood will spend 80 billion dollars on a movie about robots tearing each other apart. Is it nuanced? No. Does it have deep and soulful meaning? No. Does it pass a couple of hours? Hells yeah.

  6. I think that effect exists for sure in the general population. My parents are a bit of a weird case because they never really had any social group to speak of, with whom they'd want to keep up or impress. For most of my sentient life they've had a couple of friends tops, but spent most of their time with themselves, or a few immediate family members, or coworkers (during the day), and none of those peeps were snobs on any level. So I can almost isolate their taste away from social pressures.

    The other question your comment raises of course is whether Random Hollywood Movie is actually bad or it's just the snobbery of youth that tells us so ...

  7. Random Hollywood Movie 2 was the weakest of the trilogy, IMHO.

    (That's the first time I've ever typed "IMHO". It sounds like an insult. Like, "Step off, IMHO!")

  8. someone who acts like a slut on IM?

    I feel like italicized show titles looks absurd, god I must purge the copyeditor in me.

  9. I applaud and encourage this use of italics.

  10. i really like out of africa, and batman (michael keaton version). how about a "who likes the biggest hollywood blockbuster" contest? of course, i know some girl is gonna go titanic, and then it's like how do you top that. oh, i liked the ocean's movies. not that that beats titanic. shit

  11. Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, Ghostbusters. Jurassic Park.

    After that, special effects technology became too...special.

  12. I kind of do like Titanic but only in a SBIG kind of way so that probably doesn't count.

    I also saw Independence Day in the theater twice. But I was in high school, so.

  13. I like Titanic in the same way, EG. But I sincerely and deeply love JAWS.

  14. question for the panel, is the proper way to type jaws in all caps vs "Jaws"

  15. Update from my mom: The shows she currently watches are definitely on the quirky side: Eureka (which I'd never heard of), Dr. Who and Chuck. She reports:

    "Chuck is/was (I think it was cancelled) about a computer geek who works at a "Best Buy" equivalent who accidentally becomes a spy. Eureka is on the SciFi channel and about small town life in a place where all the residents are basically mad scientific geniuses and the consequential trouble they have each week through one mishap or another. I used to tell my sci fi UNIV that Dark Angel (another show I really liked) was technophobic because things went wrong and couldn't be fixed where Eureka is technopositive since the assumption is that science/technology will solve everything eventually."

    She used to teach a course on sci fi ... I love the technophobic vs. technopositive framework.

  16. I think Jared Leto and whoever Franco are both hot. Actually, these sensitive dudes make me wanna gag.

    This is an awesome blogpost, but Arrested Development is notably missing from the discussion.

  17. I was focusing on TV from my past, and didn't come to Arrested Development till a few years ago. I could do a whole separate post on shows I have enjoyed recently or currently enjoy. I'd mostly end up focusing on Gossip Girl I think. John's really into It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.