We’re in the middle of the two most insane weeks of the entire year for the Valentine household, so you get another post about the Muppets this week! Yaaaaay! (Muppet flail)
This weekend I took the kids to see The Muppets again, but this time we took my dad along. It was a sweet walk down Memory Lane because The Muppet Show was one of the very few shows that my family always watched together (Family Ties and The Cosby Show are the others—they seem to have handled the test of time less gracefully, though).
Usually we’d try to finish dinner before The Muppet Show came on, but I have very fond memories of those times when we would participate in that supposed bane of family togetherness—eating in front of the television. I remember dragging the coffee table over near the fire place (after clearing it of magazines by grabbing hold of the far end and dragging myself across, thus shoving everything onto the floor…I don’t think I’m sharing that particular memory with my kids just yet…) and we would all sit on the floor at the low table eating chili and drinking ginger ale. It was one of the extremely rare times that we were allowed to have carbonated sugar-laden “garbage drinks” at home.
One thing that made The Muppet Show so great was that all of us were the target audience—it was truly a family show. Case in point: my dad really isn’t a TV addict. In fact, he has little patience for fiction in general—he gets that other people enjoy it, although I’m not sure he really understands why. He’d much rather watch Nova or Frontline or any other number of informative shows. His reading is almost totally nonfiction. If you aren’t explicitly learning something, why bother? And yet this man loves the Muppets.
Decades later, the Muppets is still something I share with my dad, who’s still fairly actively in mourning for Jim Henson.
This got me wondering—30 years from now, what similar memories will my kids have? What mundane media ritual will stand out to them?
There are a couple of shows that come to mind that we enjoy as a family—primarily those examples of excellence in children’s programming, Phineas and Ferb and Avatar: The Last Airbender. However, those are mostly the kids’ shows and it just so happens that Clark and I like them, too. Of course we all enjoy the Muppets in various incarnations, but that’s still mostly my thing that everyone else thinks is fun, too.
I think our version of The Muppet Show will be Mythbusters. When we have an unscheduled evening, we order pizza, spread out a blanket, and have a floor picnic while we watch either the latest episode or a favorite we’ve recorded—thanks to TiVo and Netflix streaming, there’s always an episode available. If you ask my son what his favorite meal is, he yells, “Pizza and Mythbusters!” as though Mythbusters is a favorite sidedish. The show is the basis of many a conversation, whether it’s wondering how Adam and Jamie would handle a situation to coming up with myths we think they should tackle in future shows. (Should I be worried that my 9 year old thinks C-4 can play a role in solving most problems?) Grant, Tory, and Kari are talked about as though they’re personal friends of my kids. And it’s nonfiction enough that my dad really enjoys it, too.
This Friday evening will be a brief lull in our insane few weeks. I picked up some ginger ale and we’re planning to order pizza. We’re a week or two behind in Mythbusters, so we’ll have some new episodes none of us have seen. Yeah, I know—junk food, garbage drinks, and TV. I can’t wait. This is the stuff memories are made of.