Sherwood Schwartz, best known as the creator of The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island, passed away this month, much to my own and to many of my "raised on '70s TV" counterparts' dismay.
With so much emphasis today on what is educational TV, and what is potentially harmful for our kids to watch, it's fun to think back to the days when TV was fun and silly and we didn't worry about what we were learning or not learning. Of course there were messages that we received from both of these shows that are truly hard to comprehend today as an adult, but luckily our unhelmeted heads back in those days didn't question -- we just enjoyed.
Some of the puzzling thoughts I now have as an adult include what kind of a salary Mike Brady was making to support six kids, a dog, a housekeeper and a stay at home wife. Was he even a good architect? He supposedly designed their own house, which not only had an exterior that didn't match the interior, but which also had a totally inadequate number of bedrooms and bathrooms for nine people. And the backyard was only eight Brady-filled racing potato sacks wide.
And while the entire premise of Gilligan's Island is ridiculous, some facets of it were even more crazy than others. Why were millionaires, and a movie star for that matter, on a three-hour commercial boat tour? The tour only accommodated five passengers? How were they making any money? I guess they weren't spending any on radar weather reports. Who travels with that much luggage for a three-hour tour? Also, did Ginger and Maryanne not use any feminine hygiene products? Why didn't the Professor's white shirt ever get dirty? And if he was so flipping smart why couldn't he get them off the island? Even the Harlem Globetrotters found their way off... as far as I know. (Actually has anyone seen them lately?)
I love shows that suspend my (dis)belief; it's the shows that seem all too real that I find hard to watch. Teen Mom and Jersey Shore folks; Beverly Hills Housewives and Bachelors being paid to look for love... they're all pretty disturbing.
While it's well-known that reality shows are partially scripted, overdramatized and heavily edited, it's the pretence that the actions these folks are taking are real which drives out any enjoyment from watching them. Is it better that they're only the way they are because of the editing and scripting, or are they really like that? What's worse?
Check out Twitter on any night and you'll see people tweeting, "I can't stand to watch Kate and her eight kids anymore. Who else is watching?" or "This episode of Hoarders is disgusting -- you should tune in!"
And, if you can't watch it live, you must PVR it so you have no excuses not to partake in the horror. Since when did watching television become such a chore? My friends and I all knew and loved shows like The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island because it was the only thing we could all watch at the same time. I used to race home after school to relax and laugh along with the canned giggles on these shows (plus a healthy dose of The Partridge Family, Get Smart and The Addams Family) and I like to think that my mom was having a coffee klatch or a quick gin fizz with her friends in the next room, not worrying if the show Teen Mom was giving her own teens the wrong idea.
Maybe if we just added a laugh track to the dialogue of Snookie and Blake we'd all find our love of the silly once again. Or maybe I'll just have to write my own show called The Buckworth Bunch. But only if I get an Alice, too.