IGHT NOW, AS IT STANDS, I DON’T WATCH MUCH TV. HARDLY. I think I watch less than an hour of television each week? It’s been like this for quite some time now. A couple of years, actually. First things first: I just don’t have the time. Point blank. There’s nothing really complicated about the situation. I mostly don’t watch TV because I don’t get too many chances to tune in, and then the rest of it is just me not really having an interest in watching what’s on the screen. I usually prefer not to spend my precious leisure time watching shit. I have a TV, but it’s not exactly one of those 21st century up-to-the-minute models. And I have basic cable. And I do mean basic. Like I have the lame channels you get almost free of charge (I basically pay more just to have the damn box in my house than the actual service) before you start to buy a package. I have no package. And I’m totally fine with that. Watching a lot of TV is not something I’m used to doing, anyway. It’s just not how I was raised.
As I’ve already mentioned, I’m not familiar with many of the shows that kids my age grew up with because growing up I wasn’t allowed to watch much TV; my nostalgia for 90s television is limited. My parents were strict about many things (education and cleanliness being at the top of their list) and as such I was brought up in very disciplined and unique home environment. Yeah. I’m talking about after school tutoring programs, and piano lessons (I’d have art lessons, too), and if there were no lessons one day then my oldest brother, Augustus, would take us to the library after school and we’d read for a couple of hours. And before we left we’d check out more books so we could keep reading at home and on the weekends. On the days we didn’t have any one of these extracurricular activities
which was practically never, we’d go straight home to get started on our homework. Both of my parents worked and my mother even worked two jobs for many years of her life, so the oldest siblings would often look out for the youngest ones, (which includes my sister Nefertiti and I, who are closest in age, only one year apart) until one of my parents came home.
There were always plenty of rules to follow:
No hanging out on the stoop and wasting time outside.
No going over to a friend’s house.
No phone calls, either.
No TV until after dinner (we always ate at the dinner table). So we’d eat, and only after
we ate all our freaking vegetables wards we’d get a half an hour to watch TV. And that’s it. 30 minutes. Choose wisely. (You know, shit like that.)
And no, we couldn’t watch just anything we wanted to, either.
We were not allowed to watch anything on cable–just the good stuff that came on the regular channels. That meant watching practically e v e r y t h i n g–and I’m so serious, I mean all the programming–on PBS. Shows like The Magic School Bus, Antiques Roadshow, etc. All the nature shows: Nature, a show about. . .well, nature and NOVA the big time show, not just about nature but about every fucking scientific topic there is. With narration and everything. (Leave it to PBS to have more than one show about nature on one channel). And my father really loved this English comedy called Mr. Bean, and so we hadda watch that shit, too. It did grow on us; we came to like it so much we even went to go see the Mr. Bean movie when it came out. (Yes, there is a Mr. Bean movie. No. . .it’s not very good. Humor me. ;-) )
So here we are watching shows like the super awesome Standard Deviants TV, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (won’t you be his neighbor?), Thomas & Friends, Reading Rainbow (take a look! it’s in a book!. . .), Learn to Read (yeah, we even hadda watch that one), Lambchop’s Play Along (you know, the one with that goddamn song that doesn’t end, it just goes on and on my friends. some people started singing it not knowing what it was, but they’ll continue singing it forever just because this is the song that doesn’t end, and it goes on and on my friends. . .!), Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting, (and let me tell you, I wanna smoke whatever the hell that dude was smoking, cuz you know it hadda be some good shit for him to be painting trees in every single episode) and all the cooking shows you can imagine: Julia Childs show, Lidia’s Italy (there was another Italian chick with a cooking show, Ciao Italia with Mary Anne Esposito but she seemed like such a bootleg version of Lidia so I didn’t like her), Nick Stellino’s Italian cooking show, New Jewish Cuisine with Jeff Nathan and Friends (a Jewish cooking show, obv.), and our favorite one of all Yan Can Cook with this hilarious Asian dude who had the funniest smile. . .and everybody else is getting to know Kenan & Kel. Or some Clarissa chick who Explains It All.
So maybe the stuff on PBS wasn’t as entertaining as the stuff on those other channels, but we loved all these shows, anyway, and I’m willing to bet that they offered better quality TV than those other ones.
We might as well, we had no choice. To this day I consider Bill Nye the Science Guy to be like the greatest fucking show on television. I totally had a crush on Bill Nye. Oh! There was also this show Ghostwriter about kids who solve mysteries with the help of a ghost. . .who writes the clues (um ghostwriter, get it?! lol). I always ask people my age if they ever watched that show and nobody’s even heard of that one, and I’m like “WTH! Dude, that was the greatest show–where did you grow up?!” The geography game-show, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? , that one was probably the family favorite. I mean, we liked that show so much we got the board game for Christmas.
I can’t be too upset that no one’s heard of Ghostwriter when I’m the one who’s never watched Rugrats or fucking Sailor Moon. To this day I’m like “What the fuck is Hey Arnold!“? I know, I know. “Dude, you’ve never seen Hey Arnold! WTF! Where did you grow up?!”
But now that the network Teen Nick has announced a new late-night block of programming of ’90s TV shows I guess we all have a chance to get nostalgic about our favorite childhood shows
while trying not to feel too fucking old in the process. It’s about damn time they had a 90s throwback channel or something on TV. There’s like 50 different food channels, and more than one golf network. I mean if you can bore people with that bullshit then surely someone out there can put the awesome 90s TV archives in one channel and let people have fun strolling down memory lane. As soon as they get the original MMPR episodes on the schedule I’m calling the cable company.