I blame my parents for my addiction to crappy tv. Growing up, not only did we not have cable, but we only have 4 channels on our tv. I grew up on ABC, NBC, CBS and far far too much PBS. While other kids were watching Punky Brewster, 90210 and Melrose Place, Abby and I were watching Mr. Rogers and Square One. We had a limit of 30 minutes of tv each day during the week and an hour or so on the weekends. Reading, playing games and swimming took up most of our time. In truth, I was blissfully unaware of all that I was missing and honestly didn’t mind, or realize, that my childhood (and teenage years) were lacking the quality tv time of my peers.
When I went off to college I started to hear stories about Dawson’s Creek. I felt left out as I never got to meet Dawson, Joey or Pacey. Thankfully, the DVD box set came through for me. I started to form relationships with people my friends had known for years. Rory Gilmore and I became fast friends as we shared the stress of college. The parents on 7th Heaven taught me many life lessons. And I partied with Salinger siblings.
Over the years, my obsession with tv has changed from classic 90s family shows to reality shows. I now spend countless hours watching shows like American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, the Next Food Network Star, and Toddlers & Tiaras. Recently, I have become hooked on to two new shows: Losing it With Jillian Michaels and America’s Got Talent. Both of these shows have one thing in common – they play up the sap.
On the surface these shows are not good. One show follows a family struggling with obesity for 1 week of their lives. Watching over weight people learn how to eat appropriate sized portions and visit a gym isn’t a great plot for a show. The other show scours the country for marginal talent. I think that Winter Follies, the annual talent show at my high school had much more talents acts than this show is able to find. Really the acts are more bizarre than talented. But what draws me into to these shows are the sappy stories. The story of a family overcoming the evils of southern cooking. The story of a boy suffering from epilepsy who has found peace in indoor kite flying. The story of an old watch maker who shared his love of playing the harmonica with the world.
These stories of people, from the most obscure places around the world, I am embarrassed to say, have moved me to tears more than once. So I thank you, sappy reality tv, for allowing me to continue my quest in making up for lost time. Ironically, I do this by sitting in front of the tv, losing time from reality.