All moms should be divas...this one just happens to be in Jersey!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Somewhere between Ward Cleaver and Billy Ray Cyrus....

While we do limit TV time, it is watched. Think of me what you will. I grew up on it, and feel as adjusted as my peers who were denied it. My two are past the little kid shows with their mind numbing sing alongs and are now into the “tween/teen” shows heavily rotated on Disney and Nickelodeon. At 10 and 12, Sons1 and 2 have hit the demographic for this huge wave of kids programming out there filled with creative, ingenious, and at times flat out sneaky and obnoxious kids. Primetime TV is overrun with idiotic reality shows. Truly crackling, scripted dialogue appears the domain of 13 year olds now. There must be over a hundred shows. Employment in the youth acting marketing has got to be like 99%.

Mine are big fans of shows like Suite Life, iCarly, I’m in the Band, etc. It’s fairly easy for me to monitor the programs since our laundry room is on the same level as the rec room. (I’ve been told by the 10 yr old they are now too old to have a “play room.”). As if unceasing laundry weren’t penance enough for my desire to parent, I get to do it listening to Alex cast spells on Wizards of Waverly Place, Zach demean his twin Cody on Suite Life, and Carly and her buds create their web show. Um… kids of TV land… where the hell are your parents?

Remember when parents seemed to have brains on TV? While it disturbed me the kids never mentioned their deceased parents, I will say Mike and Carol Brady were bastions of calm logic. Donna Reed and June Cleaver were overly ideal, but seriously Wilma Flintstone had a better grip on Pebbles than these MIA parents. Lucy Ricardo showed crazy judgment, but you got the impression Little Ricky saw her, or at least thought about her, from time to time. The shows my kids watch, though, are filled with absent-minded or totally absentee parents. I know divorce rates are high, but they have a disproportionate number of single moms who are all painted as easily bamboozled morons. By and large, parents are either never mentioned, or shown as complete buffoons. TV Producers- could you cut us a LITTLE slack?

If you’re not up on your programming for 9-14 year olds, let me help:

Zack & Cody lived the “Suite Life” with their on-site hotel manager mother. It was weird enough they never ever mentioned a dad. Then one day, the gurus at Disney TV decided they shouldn’t live in a hotel with just their mom. Right. They should live on a cruise ship WITHOUT their mom. See that right there is better TV.

“I’m in the Band” follows the travails of a 15 year old boy who convinces his single mom to take in an aging, faded trio of heavy metal musicians from the band “Iron Weasel.” I don’t know about you, but I have just a wee bit of a hard time picturing single moms I know opening their home to three washed up musicians as “role models” for their sons. Has this woman never seen VH1’s Behind the Music?

“Hannah Montana” lives with her father, and to their credit they did address more than once that her mom is deceased. The bad news is she’s supervised by her father, Billy Ray Cyrus. Moving right along…

Not to be outdone by their mouse eared colleagues, the fine folks at Nickelodeon bring you their own unchaperoned programming for pre through high school. Good luck scaring up some parents there. And they start their characters off on the solo path at a tender age. Case in point, Dora wanders off with her backpack and inane singing map. They call it “exploring” but she’s a bigger flight risk than a mob kingpin or the dementia patients with whom I volunteer. Perhaps if she stayed with adults, she wouldn’t be perpetually lost? I think los padres de Dora need one of those kid leashes. And can someone please call the cops on the sticky-fingered fox?

Fast forward to teen years, and over on “Zoey 101,” Zoey goes to the boarding school Pacific Coast Academy. In this case, they rarely encounter any adult supervision unless entering a classroom. No one seems to remind them about being respectful, calling their parents, or even that they have parents. What would Mrs. Garrett think? The remaining “Facts of Life” jokes are just too easy, as they were learned by the marginally-supervised teen star, Jamie Lynn Spears. Cancelled, the show lives on in chaperone-less reruns.

And iCarly… where to begin? If you haven’t seen the show, it’s about a teen girl who lives with her brother in a gaping loft apartment creating webisodes of her online show all afternoon. Because each teen girl should be up in her bedroom-turned-web-studio with lights, a mic, a green screen, and way too much free time. And have you noticed the bar? I know we are supposed to suspend reality, and that cartoons in our impressionable youth were violent blah blah blah. Cry me a river. Did any of you actually try to move an anvil off a cliff to squash a neighbor? I’m thinking no. I am thinking there are a lot of kids who think it’s perfectly normally to shoot TV shows from your room. And what says youth safety like web cams in a bedroom?

I’m sure to my kids, I will sound lame; so be it. I simply think there has to be some happy medium between Father Knows Best and Bill Ray Cyrus. There has to be. If not as a civilization, we’re screwed. Until such scripted examples for the kids, I guess I’ll steer them toward Wizards of Waverly Place, where the parents are only half-moronic and shown as hardworking in the restaurant they own. A mom tired from managing a family business that lets her kids out of sight maybe five minutes longer than she should, but sends thunderbolts when crossed? Yeah, there’s one who’s real to me.


  1. It's funny that you wrote this post. A friend of mine and I were having this very same discussion just yesterday. Where are all the parents in TV land. I am so with you on this one.

  2. That is so interesting - our kids are young so they haven't hit the age where they'd watch those shows, but that is sad to know there aren't good parental role models in them.

  3. I am happy with Sid the Science Kid and Curious George. I am so not ready for these programs.

  4. Interesting point. And recently I noticed while watching the Toy Story movies 1 and 2 that there's no dad. Where is he? What's the story there?

  5. I have such an issue with those shows. Little Man has outgrown Nick Jr. - the shows really are too baby'ish now that he is five. So thank God for PBS Kids, because for a little while I was letting him watch the above and my son started talking very fresh to me. There's not doubt in my mind his mouthy-ness was a direct result of watching those shows. They're off limits now in our house.
    Btw, you and i really are just about "neighbors". We usually do our pumpkin picking at Sun High Orchard. Occasionally we go to Alstede. Fingers crossed, we really are supposed to have a gorgeous weekend. Hope you and your family have something fun planned and enjoy it.

  6. lol My oldest is nine so we're right on the edge. She still likes the little kid cartoons. I'm finding she has less and less time to watch it. Finding the balance is a tricky thing! :)

  7. i don't have kids, so didn't realize all the parents were missing in these shows. i am all for a little good tv for kids though. i grew up on the brady bunch!

  8. Interesting

    Hello stopping in to check out your blog from buddy notes on blogfrog. Enjoying your site and will stop back soon

  9. I loved this post -- your descriptions were so right on and very funny too.

  10. Loved this post. I addressed this last month on mine. But mine was sitcoms and family dynamics. Why does there have to be an idiot?

  11. Thank Goodness my Daughter is grown and I don't have to deal with this issue any longer.

    I am following you (a day late) from Friday Follow Over 40. I would appreciate it if you could stop by and return the favor.

    I am giving a Halloween Apron away to one of my followers 10/5

  12. Such a great post! I definitely agree with your insights. I cringe at the thought of what will be on TV when my boys reach your kids ages.
    Stopping my from blog frog.

  13. Thanks for the info! It is great that you keep so in touch with what your kids are watching! Bummer about the totally absentee parents on the TV shows though:(

  14. My kids are still in the Dora phase of their TV watching career. I've seen commercials and flipped through enough channels to get a sample of what I have to look forward to.

    I'm still trying to not only figure out some of the following:
    -Who is watching Max & Ruby?
    -Who the hell decorated Max & Ruby's house?
    -Does Caiou have cancer?
    -What is Uniquea from Backyardigans?

  15. Stopping by (belated) from MomLoop! :)

    I agree with MamaOnDaGo: it starts early. Dora, Diego, Kai-lan, Max & Ruby... not a parent in site.

    Love the post about injured children, I have three girls (almost 6 and 4 y.o. twins) and I get the craziest looks when we're in public and someone falls. We have a, "No blood, no band-aid" rule and I think many parents feel I am the most wicked witch of all when I enforce it. ;)

  16. It gets worse.My teenagers love "Glee" and when I sat to watch it with them,happened upon the episode where the parents of two guy friends(one who is gay and has a crush on the other) moved in together. So glad the show is intoducing my girls to some great music....

  17. Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you. Great blog. I think the happy medium you mentioned came years ago on the Cosby Show. On the subject of Dora I was subjected to Dora and also Blues Clues (though I tolerate it better) while feeding our toddler last night. Thanks for the link to my blog about my deep and abiding love for Dora the Explorer. LOL. Have a wonderful weekend!