Sunday, June 12, 2011

You've Got It Soft

So you think television's going downhill. You think reality TV is rotting America's brain. You think our society couldn't possibly come up with anything worse than Teen Mom or 19 Kids and Counting or anything involving a Kardashian.

Uh uh. Fellow children of the 90's, let me lay out to you what our moms and dads, grandparents as well, went through. And be glad you're not them.

First off, you complain about reality overtaking all several hundred of the channels you've got. Here's the thing, though: you have several hundred channels. You only have to find something halfway watchable on one of them at a time. I can manage that much; i don't know about you. I have two 'default' channels alone- MLB Network and CNN International- that I go to in an emergency if nothing else is on. In our parents' day, that would be unthinkable. Laughable. Cable simply didn't exist. You had three channels, maybe four (ABC, NBC, CBS, and the now-long-deceased DuMont), back at the start of the TV era. If there's garbage on four channels now, you've got hundreds of others. If there's garbage on four channels then, you're watching garbage or you're watching nothing.

But more importantly, back then, shows were just as dumb as they are now. You could argue that they were even dumber, because a) the networks were still just feeling their way out from radio and had no idea what worked yet, b) a lot of shows were just straight carryovers from radio, and c) audiences simply weren't as sophisticated as they are now. The 50's were the era of pies in the face and not being able to say the word 'pregnant' because it would be too shocking. Laugh tracks had a long way to go before audiences realized they were being treated as too dumb to know for themselves when to laugh.

You have TV Tropes. Your parents, to say the least, did not.

In addition, any show format that survived was likely to be in its absolute most primitive form. So if a TV executive wanted to tug at your heartstrings, odds are you weren't getting a subtle, well-crafted, well-edited tear jerker. No, no. They were just going to shove melodrama right down your throat.

Enter Queen For A Day.

Now, you might have heard of Queen For A Day offhand at some point, and it's likely you heard of the show's gist as: housewives took turns giving the biggest sob stories they could come up with, and the one who gave the best sob story won enough prizes to open their own shopping mall, which they would also win. And then the winner would cry a bunch more in the process.

Yeah, pretty much.

Please excuse the static- this obviously came off a tape- as you see what your parents and grandparents had to watch in the 50's. Women in the audience, it is at this time that the management asks you to please put down any large, blunt Mack trucks you may have on hand, as your electronic device of choice may end up crushed underneath them otherwise..

Aren't you glad you don't have to watch that?

I mean, again?

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