Growing up in the 1950s, there were only three channels. Today, with cable, you can have hundreds of channels, something that amazes me, still. And it is the enormity of choices that has cooled my ardor for television.
I was never a big fan of television, as books were my vice of choice. I preferred to see the images in my mind as I read a good book over the flashing images on a television box. Of course, I had some favorites, mostly television mysteries, such as Kojak, Dan August, Hart to Hart, Magnum P. I., and Matlock.
I have always liked the idea of good versus evil, and watching the bad guys get caught at the end of an hour was so satisfying for me. Even though people died, there wasn’t a lot of blood and gore shown. That has changed today, as I used to skip part of my favorite show, NCIS, when the “autopsies” were being performed. But, lately, I have been able to grasp that it is makeup or a costume, so I am good.
The other major change was that not many black people were on television in his beginning. So, when someone like Nat King Cole or Lena Horne was going to be on The Ed Sullivan Show, the whole neighborhood would gather in the three or so homes with a television in our neighborhood.
We were so proud of them, and when the Jackson Five were on the show, you would have thought the Pope was visiting! We danced the moves right along with them, loving every moment they were highlighted. When Bill Cosby costarred with Robert Culp in I Spy, people adjusted their lives to be able to see him.
Then, Diane Carroll had her own show, Julia, in which she was a nurse and a single parent. Nearly all of us who did not have a father in our lives could identify with her, except she was middle class and we were poor. But, that didn’t matter, we were just glad to be represented.
Now, of course, there are so many offerings for television shows and movies by entities like Netflix, Hulu, Slate, and You Tube, etc.. This means that you can watch whatever you like, including binge-watching shows from morning to night. Wonderfully, so many of the shows include blacks in leading or supporting roles.
Yet, today, Douglas and I have canceled cable, and we only use a digital antenna. Once again, we only have the main three channels, the public television station, a lot of Christian shows, and some sports on Fox. We have Netflix to help Douglas sleep at night, for he needs documentaries on the animal kingdom flashing white light at night to stay asleep.
So, I have come full circle, and I still prefer a book to watching television. The only show I watch on Netflix is Frankie and Grace, as it stars two older women like myself, another group not well represented on television or movies, who are living lives I find so interesting! Go ladies!
It will be interesting to see how television evolves over the next twenty years. I will check it out occasionally, but, more than likely, I will be somewhere holed up with a good mystery, smiling when the bad guy gets caught, and good triumphs over evil once again.
Written for the Stream of Consciousness Saturday from Linda G. Hill: TV memories.