I was born in 1985, the same year Nick at Nite and VH1 were born. These two channels were spearheaded by parent company Viacom and changed the course of television. These two networks are also part of many of my TV-related childhood memories. From the days when I was a 6-year-old falling asleep on the couch while watching The Dick Van Dyke Show, TV has been a soothing and entertaining type of therapy for me.
Ever since the dawn of the golden age of television in the 1950s, people have been captivated by TV’s warm glow, constant presence and ability to take its viewers into a world that can be very different from their own. But TV has brought along both bad and good: People are able to keep up with the news as it happens, which can be good. Yet in some ways, TV has had harmful effects on society. It has caused families to become disconnected from each other, as well as individual distraction in people’s lives and inactivity in children.
I am surely a byproduct of this phenomenon. As a child, TV and videos became my comfort mechanism. While settling down to go to sleep as a youngster my grandma would put Sesame Street tapes on. To this day, I still have to fall asleep to a DVD or TV, or my mind will race and ponder numerous things while I am trying to sleep. There are many adults out there who fell into this pattern while they were children and still cannot shake it.
Shows such as E! True Hollywood Story are informative yet entertaining for the casual viewer. They inform said viewer on where the subject has come from and where they are going in the future – or in some cases, if the subject has passed away, how the deceased’s family is dealing with the absence. My viewing habits, however, were far from casual.
From the 6-year-old dreamily watching Dick Van Dyke, I became a ravenous adolescent, hungry for whatever bit of entertainment-related knowledge I could get my hands on. Watching Behind the Music on VH1 opened up a whole new world for me. I learned of the pain and heartbreak that happened in the lives of stars before, during and after their rise to fame. It made them more human and relatable.
As I grew older, my knowledge grew through things such as watching shows like Behind the Music and looking up information about particular actors on the Internet Movie Database, IMDB.com. Yet even as I am about to enter my 21st year of life, my appetite for knowledge of anything and everything encompassing the entertainment world has not subsided.
My collection of knowledge is vast – did you know that Shirley Jones, who played the mother on The Partridge Family, was in many Rodgers and Hammerstein movies before her stint as Mrs. Partridge? From a Behind the Music episode, I learned that ex-Journey frontman Steve Perry was ousted from the group because he held off on having surgery, which prevented his band from going out on tour during a rebirth of its career with the 1996 big single, “When You Love a Woman.”
Who knows this stuff, and who cares? I do, I guess – though I have to wonder about the value of said knowledge. If I have the entire dialogue of Grease memorized, why don’t I have the so-called “important stuff,” such as the Gettysburg Address, fully crammed in the ol’ noggin?
I’m not sure, to tell you the truth. I guess because learning about Lincoln is not my passion, but learning about John Travolta and the like is. As long as I am not closed-minded to learning about other subjects, I can sustain my passion of learning about the entertainment world and its so-called “useless trivia.” Where do you stick a girl who knows Lucille Ball was born Aug. 6, 1911, and that the popular sitcom Full House, like many other shows, did not get a legitimate farewell episode? I hope not sitting on a couch watching endless Roseanne marathons for the rest of her life. I’m not sure, but who knows – my skills may win me some cash on Jeopardy someday.