Saturday, October 20, 2012
The Critical Mom and the Awful Sit-Com
If it's not "I Love Lucy" I hate it. What passes for humor in the sit coms favored by my children--and I find them hard to tell apart, the sit coms that is, not the kids, is a guy peeing in his pants during his own wedding, which the kids found hilarious and I didn't, or the dumb rich girl (London on Zack and Cody, the only one whose name I remember) bribing her teacher with a suitcase filled with cash in order to get a good grade. Which she gets. This particular turn of the plot brought home to me its probably creators: grad students who have abandoned the dissertation for Hollywood, and are remembering their favorite nightmares. I just heard another version of this not infrequent story: the principal told a young teacher in a high school somewhere in this small city in which I live that she couldn't give her students less than a grade of B minus, because otherwise the school would receive less money from the wealthy parents who were bypassing the teacher to bribe the principal. While the TV is spewing canned laughter and London is bribing her teacher, the kids are laughing, I am making dinner while bustling around hissing, "This IS NOT funny!" and naturally that makes it even funnier. Meanwhile, the usual track is playing in my mind: "How come we even have a TV? Why didn't I stick to the let-them-watch-DVDS-that-I-choose mode? Think how many books they would have read by now if they had never seen one of those dumb shows . . ." Well, but they're doing okay. They're reading cookbooks and building dioramas out of old wooden wine boxes and holding Lego pirate and soldier battles . . . and when I was the age of my middle child, ten, I used to rush home from school to watch--of all things--Dark Shadows, which I found scary and sophisticated. What was my mother thinking, letting me while away hours in front of the idiot box? I should have been shuffling off to a tap dance class or ballet or recorder lessons or violin lessons. But I watched Dark Shadows instead, which I now think of as a sit com, and learned to do vampire imitations the way my children are now learning to do Zack and Cody imitations. . . plus ça change . . .