How The Boob Tube Turned Muse by
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Alright settle down there, Retros. Yes, let us talk about the television, the telly, the boob tube. Now, before you all start clutching your pearls and wailing about the “vast wasteland” that is television, à la Newton Minow, hear me out. Because amongst the endless parade of reality trash and brain-rotting sitcoms, there were gems. Glittering diamonds in the rough, that somehow managed to inspire this cynical lump of protoplasm you are now reading from.

First up, there was this little show called “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.” Now, I know, I know. Groundbreaking. Hilarious. Influential. Blah blah blah. But here’s the thing: Monty Python wasn’t afraid to be absurd. They took the holiness out of absolutely everything, from stuffy institutions to social norms to walking funny. It was like a comedy explosion that detonated right in the middle of my teenage angst. Suddenly, questioning everything, ripping the sacrosanctness out of all authority, and reveling in the nonsensical – it all seemed not just permissible, but encouraged. It was a rebellion I could get behind while sprawled on the sofa, stuffing my face with chips and salsa.

And then there was “The X-Files.” Now, this wasn’t your typical FBI cop show. Sure, there were shootouts and spooky thrills, but there was also this undercurrent of questioning authority, of searching for the truth that was just out of reach. It planted a seed in my grumpy little adolescent head – a seed of curiosity, a yearning to dig deeper, to challenge the status quo. Plus, it had Scully and Mulder, the ultimate will-they-won’t-they tension that kept me glued to the screen even during their commercials for hemorrhoid cream. (Though, let’s face it, those were unintentionally hilarious too.)

Look, I’m not gonna pretend these shows turned me into Mother Teresa or Albert Einstein. But they did spark something. Monty Python showed me the power of humor, of questioning the status quo, and of not taking life too seriously. The X-Files instilled a sense of curiosity, a desire to explore the unexplained. And hey, maybe that’s not a bad takeaway from a few nights parked in front of the Dopamine Box, scoffing down microwaved burritos.

Now, before you all get too misty-eyed, let’s not forget the sheer amount of rubbish that television spews out. But amidst the trash heap, there are these occasional nuggets of inspiration. So next time you find yourself flicking through the channels, bored out of your gourd, don’t despair. You never know when you might stumble upon a show that’ll make you laugh, think, or maybe even question the very fabric of reality. Just remember to mute the commercials. Unless, of course, they’re selling hemorrhoid cream. Because frankly, those commercials are a comedic goldmine.

 

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Profile photo of Kevin Driscoll Kevin Driscoll
(Mostly) Vegetarian, Politically Progressive, Daily Runner, Spiritual, Helpful, Friendly, Kind, Warm Hearted and Forgiving. Resident of Braintree MA.


Characterizations: funny, well written

Comments

  1. Thanx Kevin, as always you amaze as you sustain that humorous POV throughout your story!

    More of a reader than a TV watcher, I’m reminded of EM Forster’s imperative to “only connect”, and as hemorrhoids may be caused by sitting too long, I realize hemorrhoid cream is indeed the perfect product to tout during those annoying TV commercial breaks..

  2. Khati Hendry says:

    There are a few gems out there hidden in the drek. Glad you found some. There was a book “Four Arguments for the Total Elimination of Television” by Jerry Mander (great name) written half a century ago that probably still has some good points, as did Marshall McLuhan’s “The Medium is the Message”, but the horse is so way out of the barn by now.

  3. Suzy says:

    Totally agree with you about Monty Python and the X Files. Both gems. There are a few other good shows out there, and certainly now with streaming services instead of just 3 networks, a lot more (both good and bad) to choose from.

  4. Jim Willis says:

    Kevin,
    You’ve picked a couple of good retro shows on TV with Python and X Files. Both broke ground in different ways. I’ve always wondered if X Files may not have been inspired, at least a little, by the older, more short-lived Darren McGavin series, Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974-75). I find just enough on TV these days to keep me from totally keeping the screen black. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    The main benefit of streaming is no commercials. Plus, there are endless things to watch, most of which are awful. But occasionally I happen upon a gem.

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