Sharon Myers: Tune in tomorrow for more excitement

Sharon Myers The Lexington Dispatch

I have been a television junkie ever since I was little, but growing up a child of the ’70s, there were just some programs my parents would not let me watch.

Many of these shows are now being shown on cable on what are labelled throwback networks, which is insulting in itself. I have been enjoying, with a little bit of guilty pleasure, watching the shows my parents would never let me watch. But I have come to the realization my parents knew what they were talking about all along.

Back in 1979, I was 9 years old and in fifth grade. The most popular shows on television at the time were “Three’s Company” and “One Day at a Time.” My parents thought the subject matter was too mature for me, and I remember being so angry with them. I recall going to school, and everyone else was in on the joke but me. I believed my parents were treating me like a baby. Big deal that one of the characters was divorced, or that two women lived with a man. I just couldn’t understand why my parents would deliberately make me an outcast.

Fast forward 30 so years, and the other shoe (so to speak) finally dropped. These shows were riddled with sexual innuendo, with characters who were blatantly sexist, racist and homophobic.

One of the things I thought was interesting is the continual reference to “the pill.” I understand it was a controversial subject at the time, but it just seems odd that in every other scene there would be some reference to “the pill” or premarital sex. It wasn’t a casual reference either, it was like being beaten over the head with the subject, which made me wonder what the agenda was for that show.

Another common plot line, especially on “Three’s Company,” was the misunderstanding someone was having sex with someone else. There was always someone who was supposed to be hopping in and out of bed, and everyone thought it was the funniest thing. Not to mention the fact one of the characters was supposed to be homosexual, and the horrible stereotypes that were used on that show makes me cringe today.

It finally hit me why my parents would not want their 9-year-old to be watching men cracking jokes about “doing it” with a bunch of women or to see half-dressed women bouncing around and being a dumb sex kitten. They most certainly wouldn’t want me, in my prepubescent years, to get it into my head that switching partners every week was a good thing. I get it now; I didn’t then.

I understand the ‘70s were the swinging singles age that followed the sexual revolution of the ‘60s. Of course with the advent of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, things are much different now. That is not to say they are better.

What my parents thought was shocking is tame by today’s standards. It never ceases to amaze me what some people call entertainment. I often wonder if it is because there are now hundreds of channels, and programmers are just looking for something, anything to fill up the time. Back in the day, you had three major networks and PBS. Since they only really had those few hours to fill, the programming, while not always a winner, was at least thought out.

Nowadays, you just push a camera in some drunk girl’s hand, tell her to get in a fight, show her boobs and call it a reality show. Even the major networks think one guy dating a dozen women, making out with each and every one of them and getting engaged to someone they have known less than a month is “quality programming.”

So here I sit, a mother myself looking at what is passing for programming these days and finding myself in a dilemma. Do I forbid my children from watching programs their friends are watching because I feel they are inappropriate, or do I let them watch because I remember how it felt to be the odd man out? I have to go with my gut and put the hammer down. You only get one chance to be a child, and the longer I can go without worrying about them becoming involved on that level the better.

I know they are angry, just like I was, but in 20 years they can catch the reruns.

Sharon Myers can be reached at Follow Sharon on Twitter: @LexDispatchSM.