All the playing’s stopped in the playground now, she wants to play with her toys a while. And school’s out early and soon we’ll be learning and the lesson today is how to die.
As a matter of consequence, I have recently adopted a new form of discipline to combat my children’s transgressions and misdemeanours. I subject them to my sizeable vault of 80s sitcom DVDs. While the concept of family sitcoms has evolved over the generations, I am shocked by how many episodes of once family-friendly sitcom fare I have elected to edit or skip entirely due to what is now considered “adult situations.” I feel like Tipper Gore hoisting a Twisted Sister album at a PMRC rally. In the last month alone, I fast-forwarded through Natalie, dressed as Charlie Chaplin, barely eluded a serial rapist while returning from Eastland’s Halloween cotillion. Next, was Arnold and Dudley enduring being forcible confined and sexually interfered by Mr. Carlson, the bicycle man, and Alex P. Keaton jonesing for more speed. Seeking more innocence, we then stumbled onto Punky being ditched at the side of a road and inevitably fostered by an old man who clearly was overlooked being placed on a sex offender registry. Of course, I can’t play five minutes from the adventures of the worst school in history – Degrassi High. Shane literally acid trips off a bridge, orphaned Wheels’ alcoholism and subsequent impaired causing death conviction was only abrupted by Caitlyn’s same sex molestation. And that all occurred before the first commercial break. It’s getting harder to remember a simpler time when the whole family would gather to watch an episode of Good Times, only to squirm and pretend to not be paying attention while JJ gets tested for a venereal disease. (An actual episode, by the way.) These “very special” episodes were usually concluded with a freeze frame as the final shot and silence instead of canned applause or the end theme song, allowing for more dramatic introspective reflection. These episodes were to the writers what the power ballad was to a hair metal band. A self-fulfilling ego trip to display depth of talent, which translated to the audience as a good time to use the washroom or visit the t-shirt table.
I’ve suffered through more than my share of Hannah Montana and iCarly episodes, and not once has a character got an infected genital piercing, or gotten hooked on smack. Nor should they, it’s supposed to be family entertainment. They grow up fast enough anymore, and I don’t think I should be needlessly forced into explaining how drug czars smuggle narcotics into prison until he’s at least seven years old. Call me old fashioned. Besides, the Colombian version of Sesame Street (Calle des Sesameya) already handled it with a surprisingly delicate touch in the 1970s era musical vignette entitled “Everybody Mules.”
Incidentally, the only show my kids and I have seemed to breeze through without any unwanted pregnancies or eating disorders is Silver Spoons, which has supported my lobbying to have a Galaga arcade game in my living room at home. It also serves to qualify the age-old adage – Money solves everything. Ka-ching!