A colleague of mine recently loaned me the first season of Three's Company on DVD. Watching this show once again instantly brought me back to my childhood, when re-runs would air Monday to Friday. Back then, most of the sexual innuendo went over my head but I loved it nonetheless. It was one of those programs that felt like a warm security blanket, that made everything better, if only for half an hour.
This could explain, in part, my addiction to television. Certain shows, at different times in my life, filled a need to escape, created a safe environment for however long the show lasted. Back in the eighties, shows like Three's Company, Family Ties and the Dukes of Hazard were among my faves.
Every Friday night, I'd always try to sneak in Dallas which aired immediately after the Dukes of Hazard. I'd sit quietly in our rec room, which was downstairs, while my parents were milling about upstairs and hope my mother wouldn't notice it was past my bedtime. Sure enough, every time, as soon as she heard the Dallas theme song, she would call me up to bed. Damn, I would think, foiled once again!
When I got a little older, I was allowed to stay up later to watch Miami Vice, which led to my unhealthy obsession with Don Johnson and the disintegration of my promising acting career.
In the early nineties, when I was struggling with homesickness and low self-esteem during my first year of university, Beverly Hills 90210 was my saving grace. The kids on the show were also in their first year of university, albeit richer and in a warmer climate. I escaped into their college experience to momentarily forget my own which, although academically successful, was wrought with difficulties, not the least of which was contending with one of the coldest winters I can remember, an apt manifestation of how I was perceiving my environment at that time - cold and inhospitable.
I also had a fiery affair with a short-lived remake of a vampire program, Dark Shadows, starring Ben Cross. After only one season and one hell of a cliffhanger, it went off the air. I was incensed. This, of course, was an early harbinger of my later obsession with vampires, pre-Twilight. Don't get me started on that bullshit... When the spoof Vampires Suck is better than the actual movies, somethin's gotta give.
The mid to late nineties were peppered with great sitcoms: Seinfeld, Friends, Frasier, Roseanne. And, irony of ironies, my dad introduced me to Sex and the City in 1998. He was watching it one night and hollered: "You gotta come and see this!" And then I was hooked.
These days I'm all about HBO and Showcase and shit. They're producing some of the best TV ever. And it just keeps getting better. Although I would be remiss if I didn't mention two of my network faves, 30 Rock and Modern Family.
Throughout my life, television programs have been there, like a faithful friend, momentarily suspending reality and allowing me to escape into some other universe. Not that my life was filled with hardship. Quite the opposite, actually. I was, however, struggling with what everyone faces in their lives: self-doubt, low self-esteem, perfectionism (my own), relationships with family, friends and boys, societal expectations, etc...
Say what you will about TV and, for the most part, its ever devolving content, it still provides a reprieve from reality, from fears and frustrations, demands and expectations, and simply allows me to be. It's the yoga of TV.