Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Have we loved Lucy enough?
But in Mr. Genzlinger's case, whenever he does such an article (a la “sitcoms are dead”) he always backs it up with a persuasive argument (even if you don’t buy it). And he writes for the New York Times, so it’s not Cliff Clavin ranting in the Scientology Picayune-Intelligence.
On Sunday Mr. G. made the case that old vintage TV shows should essentially be put away forever. And tops on his list is I LOVE LUCY. Talk about spitting on the cross.
Before you get out the torches and pitchforks, here’s his take:
There’s nothing wrong with nostalgia and occasionally dipping into our past. But with all these retro cable channels it is now possible to go down the rabbit hole and watch nothing but these chestnuts. And in his opinion, a steady diet of GILLIGAN’S ISLAND and GREEN ACRES will turn your brain to mush. Can you totally disagree with him?
In terms of Lucy, he reasons: In its time, it was defining. But today the broad humor draws only the occasional chuckle. The show is like your high school girlfriend: Just because you loved Lucy once doesn’t mean you still do.
Here’s where he gets in trouble. I LOVE LUCY continues to rerun endlessly because it continues to get amazing ratings and make people really laugh. Every generation seems to discover and embrace it. And some of the comic set pieces are timeless classics. I LOVE LUCY is truly in a class of its own. It could be retitled I BELOVE LUCY. That said, I’ve seen every episode a gazillion times and have no desire to personally seek one out.
A lot of those old classic shows don’t hold up when you watch them today. You realize your love for them is rooted primarily in nostalgia. There are old shows I remember liking as a kid that I see now and say “what was I thinking?” LAUGH-IN for one. In it’s heyday I thought this was the most hilarious show on television. Today I can’t watch two minutes without cringing and wanting to kill myself.
To his point about the danger of immersing yourself in these evergreens at the expense of watching anything else, I tend to agree. And I am sometimes an offender. But not in television. Radio.
My favorite era of music is the ‘60s. Thanks to Sirius/XM and internet stations I’m able to listen to ‘60s music 24/7. And at times I do. But after a few days I just have to listen to something else. For every Beatles record I could hear on an endless loop there’s also the 1910 Fruit Gum Company. Get me to the Reggae station. Where’s my Nicole Atkins playlist? I’ve even been known to flee to sportstalk radio in desperation.
The bottom line though is I’m thrilled that these retro networks exist and that these old shows are still available. And, like everything else, take in moderation.
What troubles me, and this is not a point that Mr. Genzlinger addressed, is that now some of MY shows are on these retro channels. Those nostalgia networks are for shows I watched when I was six.
What the fuck?