Television has always been a part of most children’s lives. I used to come home from school and watch Gilligan’s Island, and I can still remember the Friday night lineup when we got to stay up late with the babysitter. In college we would all congregate in someone’s dorm room to eat pizza and watch Miami Vice. Then we’d go to a party and flirt with guys wearing pastel jackets with pushed up sleeves…in the winter…in New Jersey. However, my unconditional love affair with TV came to an abrupt end last week when I came home to find Cranky watching Jersey Shore.
For those lucky few not familiar with this program, it is a reality show that follows a group of uneducated—or at least poorly educated—20-something self-proclaimed ‘guidos’ as they drink, fight, work out, spray tan and swap STDs throughout beach season on the New Jersey shore. The summer I spent in Sea Girt was nothing like this. And what galls me is that this behavior is being rewarded, literally. The worse they act, the more popular they become and the more money they make. Kim Kardashian released a sex tape, now she’s an A-List celebrity, well, B-minus, but still.
Put false eye lashes and a wig on your toddler and enter her in a beauty pageant and they’ll put you on TV. If your teenage daughter gets pregnant, good news! There’s a show about that too. If she’s planning on marrying the guy who got her in ‘trouble,’ oh I’m sorry, I meant got her ‘into show business,’ there’s a show for that, too.
Which brings me to Sister Wives, a show where a self-described fundamentalist Mormon has three wives and is courting a fourth. Forget the fact that polygamy is a felony even in Utah, this guy wants us to tune in so we can redefine marriage. My definition of marriage has already expanded from Ward and June Cleaver to what it is today, and that’s as far as I’m willing to go. So no, I will not be ‘tuning in.’ I don’t like to encourage that kind of behavior.
The good news is there are some great shows on television. Modern Family is the funniest sitcom on television since Cheers—maybe even I Love Lucy. (How’s that for overselling?) So if I can keep Cranky, Whiny and Punch watching iCarly and the Wizards of Waverly Place for a few more years, hopefully they can learn that hitting someone over the head with a beer bottle is not an acceptable recycling technique. If I really get my act together I can point them toward those thick rectangular things filling the shelves all over our house. I’m pretty sure Catherine and Heathcliff don’t have a sex tape.