It was Louis Riel Day in Manitoba and Family Day in other parts of Canada on Monday. On that note, we thought we’d have a potluck-style Roundtable and discuss the shows we remember watching with our family.
Jane: Watching TV with my Grandparents created some of my favorite memories as a child and as a grownup. As a child there were strict TV rules. Bedtime was directly after Cheers and there was to be no talking during the final segment of Wheel of Fortune. My Grandpa had a thing for Vanna White and that was the only time she got to speak. Later in life my Grandpa’s favorite show was “the written news” aka The Weather Channel. My Grandma and I would patiently watch with him, until it was time for his nap, when we would flip to that crazy Hyacinth Bucket on Keeping Up Appearances. If I didn’t laugh at the funny parts my Grandma would explain them to me.
When it was just me and my Grandma we would spend Sunday afternoons together eating pickles and peanuts with our feet up watching TCM and the Slice Channel. She would often apologize for not having much for me to do. I wish I could have adequately expressed to her how much those afternoons meant to me. She passed away a year and a half ago and Sunday’s still don’t feel right. One of our favorite shows was Say Yes to the Dress and I am so thankful for the conversations that came from watching it together. I’m getting married in a couple of months and although I never had a chance to speak with my Grandma about my own dress or shoes or hair, we had countless conversations about the Say Yes to the Dress ladies. We also had the chance to talk about weddings, marriage and what life was like for her and my Grandpa. These are conversations that might not have come up in another setting.
Kerri: As a kid, I learned pretty early on that it was way more fun to watch TV shows with other people than it was to watch them alone because that meant that you could talk to someone else about them. I was the TV glutton/expert in my household and so I usually decided what we would watch at any given time. And because I wanted to not only watch shows but discuss them as well, I would force other family members to watch with me (I’d get quite angry if the person I was watching a show with couldn’t view the show that week, for whatever reason). This family member was usually, inevitably my mom.
I had a tiny little TV in my room growing up (at first it was an old black and white TV from, I think, the 70s that had a manual dial and would only get up to channel 13. I got a tiny color one years later) that I’d watch pretty much all day, as soon as I came home from school. I’d watch primetime television downstairs in the family room, often with my sister and my dad as well, but when it got a little bit later in the evening (like, the 9pm slot, or so), my mom and I would head upstairs to my room and watch E.R., or The Practice on that tiny TV in my bedroom. I loved those shows because they really were quite well made and well acted, but I also loved them because they meant I got to spend time with my mom. I don’t even know if my mom liked the shows we watched and I can’t ask her now. I hope the television was secondary for her too. To this day, watching shows on my own doesn’t have the same appeal as sitting in a room with a bunch of other people and watching something together.
Other shows I remember watching and loving with members of my family: me and my Dad howling with laughter at Kids in the Hall; Me and my sister watching the heck out of Gilmore Girls when it was in its early years, plus many hours of Days of Our Lives and other regrettable NBC soap operas.
Katie: My family always watched TV together. We had three TVs in the house but there was an unwritten rule that if someone was watching TV in the living room, you sat down and joined. No one wanted to watch TV alone.
When I lived at home I don’t recall any specific shows that everyone agreed upon. There was that one summer we all stayed up until 10pm to watch Train 48 together… or that one summer both my brother and i came home from university, and we’d all stay up until 11pm for Iron Chef America.
But overall we’d just watch whatever was on. If the show sucked, we’d complain but we wouldn’t leave. TV time was family time and if all the members of the family ended up sitting down at the same time, we’d ride it out.
Now when I go home to visit, we watch the US Office together. And Pawn Stars. Or whatever DVD series my parents are into. My dad spoils the endings (because he already looked it up on Wikipedia) and I complain about how producers stage all the good bits on reality shows. My brother fiddles on his phone. If its something sad my mom is probably crying. Or pausing the TV to take a phone call. But we’re all there, sitting in the same room. Family time.