Friday, May 6, 2011

Can We Improve TV

In mid-April I had dental surgery and spent most of my week snuggled into my living room chair -- ice packs, hot packs and soft foods abundant.  This is not the way I would have preferred to spend my "spring vacation" from the grandbabies.  My usually hectic days came to an abrupt stop when I returned from the dentist with my swollen face and pain medicine.  My resultant drug haze made reading and writing difficult, so I was left with no choice but to watch TV for hours on end.  I do not  enjoy many TV programs, so the multitude of cable choices do not tempt me.  However, this week of television viewing provided me with time to really think about the programming available to our society and its negative influence on our children.

Coincidentally, recently I watched an award show on the TV Land channel.  TV Land features reruns of TV shows from the 70's, 80's and 90's.  On this Sunday night, one of the stars of the sitcom "Facts of Life", thanked TV Land for providing TV programming that our children can watch.    As I watched this award show, I enjoyed the glimpses of the past -- the years when I was raising my own children and we gathered around the TV together in the evening.  Programming then was naively entertaining.

During my long, boring week of recovery, I scrolled through the cable guide to find something that would hold my interest.  The reality shows are not worth viewing; the sitcoms are disgusting, and I cannot stomach the blood and gore of the various CSI's.  For the most part, I was drawn to the cooking channels and the channels which featured old reruns.  Now I remember why I don't watch TV anymore.

Unfortunately, most of today's TV programming highlights the worst of our culture -- our lack of morals, civility, and ethics.  In a world that so much needs examples of good parenting, responsibility and accountability for our actions, and the knowledge that success is not a matter of income level, there is little in our programming to provide any of these examples.

Watching reruns of "The Waltons" and "Little House on the Prairie" particularly sparked comparisons in my mind with today's TV selections.  Both "The Waltons" and "Little House on the Prairie" were realistic portrayals of family life in the time periods they represented.  There were struggles and hardships to endure, and the families were not immune from tragedy.  There were also dishonest, greedy neighbors who continued to thrive, despite their lack of character.  However, values such as honesty, loyalty and hard work were held up as something to strive for.  Children were given an abundance of love, but taught responsibility and values from an early age.

It seems to me that TV programming today is designed to celebrate material excesses, sex without feeling, and a pervasive nastiness in human relationships.  Could it be that what our children are watching plays a large part in the serious problems of bullying, violence, and lack of civility in our society?  How can we bring back quality TV programming?


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