My mom was unusual for her time in many ways. One way that jumped out at me recently was that she was not a daytime television viewer. During my growing-up years, TV programs airing during the morning and afternoon hours ran heavily to game shows and soap operas. With only three channels to choose from, the choices were limited. Most days in our house, except for the venerable “Captain Kangaroo” kid’s show that ran early in the morning, and occasionally “Art Linkletter” which ran in the later afternoon, the tube stayed off and everyone in the household pursued other activities. But I well remember my mother’s Aunt Hilda’s edict, “Don’t call me between 1 and 2, that’s when my stories are on.”
My stories. As was their designated purpose, soaps pulled people in, making them part of whatever show they preferred. Women - and I don’t use the term loosely, because during my childhood it was mostly women who were at home in the daytime - developed a rapport or a dislike, depending on the characters, that made them loyal followers. I think great aunt Hilda was fascinated with “As the World Turns,” and (surprisingly) “Edge of Night,” but it doesn’t matter and we’ll never know. Hilda died many years ago and neither of those soaps are aired any longer. But she was vested. They were “hers.” I had an interest in “Days of Our Lives” and “Another World” for a few years. “Another World” disappeared many years hence but “Days” is still going strong. But I’ll bet if I investigated it, I’d discover only a handful of daytime soaps being shown in present day. They’ve given over to “talk” and “reality” TV. No thank you. Which may or may not make me as unusual as my mom….
I never watched “Dr. Phil,” or “Oprah,” or “Judge Judy.” Never seen an episode of “The View,” or any other modern daytime talk or reality show. It’s just not my thing. The radio is my preferred accompaniment for daily noise when I’m not at my places of work, and if I am home to snap on the tube its more likely to be something classic (by my personal definition of classic) such as “The Andy Griffith Show,” or “Murder She Wrote,” or “Gunsmoke,” or “MASH.”
Advertising is different nowadays too. Soap operas were called just that because they were sponsored by companies that manufactured products geared to the housewife - cleaning agents, and such. I’ve noticed on some channels many of the ads now are for legal representation - if you’ve taken this medication, or become ill because of this product, we can get you money, money, money. Makes me a bit nauseous how our world has actually turned.
Those soap stars represented fictional characters that were much like their viewers, so we could form attachments. A bit hard to attach to folks whose ideology is as distant from your own as the moon is to earth. Maybe we were all just innocents back in my early days, but with all those “soap” ads at least we were clean innocents, both literally and figuratively.
When I look at what passes for “cartoons” nowadays I get a distinct longing for my grandkids, too. How I wish they could see Captain Kangaroo jingling his keys to the treasure house, which solidly beats “The Loud House” and its obnoxious inhabitants hands down. For adult fare (which kids watch too), I’ll take “The Flintstones” over “The Simpsons” any day.
Aunt Hilda with her soaps, mom with her industrious housekeeping, and we kids at play was idyllic. Maybe I simply long for those easier, less complicated, simpler times. And it’s not just “rearview mirror thinking,” here. The world WAS a better place in so many ways back then. Unfortunately wishing won’t return it to that. The world has evolved and we’re all expected to evolve according to its criteria, regardless of how untenable that criteria may be to us personally. I’m thinking, “no thank you.” I’ll just do the best I can here in my little korner of the world and follow my own view, outside influences notwithstanding. How ‘bout you?