You might think it’s next to impossible to develop a close relationship with a TV that doesn’t have cable, but you’d be cynically wrong. My TV and I became good friends during my recovery from surgery. Besties. BFFs.
You only need one good TV channel to make a fulfilling relationship. I found mine in a channel called meTV—Memorable Entertainment Television. The morning I discovered that two episodes of Leave It to Beaver were showing five days a week was the morning I changed my bad attitude about recovering from abdominal surgery. The morning I was introduced to The Donna Reed Show was the morning I wished I had a year’s worth of sick leave and an understanding boss.
Those two shows turned out to be the balm that no codeine-laced drug could replace. In the months before the surgery, my life had become extraordinarily stressful and complicated. I found no relief in gardening, sleeping or drinking heavily. I had hopped on that great greased slide to misery and despair—and knowing that I hadn’t hit the bottom yet was demoralizing and scary. So, spending an hour and a half with nice people whose problems were never more serious than a son’s bicycle left in the driveway brought the peace of mind and distraction I needed.
For many weeks after my surgery, my routine rarely varied. I’d get up about 6:30 and slowly shuffle through the dining room and kitchen to the living room sofa, lugging along a brain that was barely functioning, having been marinated in narcotics during 6 days of hospitalization. Bleary eyed and dazed, I’d sit for a few minutes waiting for a few synapses to fire up and then turn on the digital flat screen TV that had barely gotten any use up to this point.
Not counting the Spanish-language and religious channels, my TV has 7 viable stations to watch. I raced through the first five and when I reached 12.2, I stopped. Here was meTV, soon to become my very special, euphoria-producing myTV.
It was disheartening to find that The Beverly Hillbillies came on at 6:30. But, mercifully, my brain was still working at half strength, preventing me from experiencing the full force of the supreme inanity that are the Clampitts and their costars. It’s a surprising and disturbing testimony to the power of moronic southern stereotypes that TV shows about backwards, mouth-breathing folks still persist today and find an audience. But so it is.
After the first couple of mornings, I was able to tolerate the few tortuous minutes of TBH because it was followed by the delightfully charming Donna Reed Show. I had heard about The Donna Reed Show years ago by accident, and now, here I found it on my TV screen, also by accident. I recognized Shelley Fabares, even though she was decades younger than the person I had seen on other TV serials. Donna Reed, playing the mother of two children, was a new face to me. She was a stunningly beautiful woman sporting the very bad hairstyle of a 1950s modern housewife. Her husband, Dr. Alex Stone, played by Carl Betz, was equally enticing eye-candy. Their youngest son, played by Paul Petersen, was an adorable crack-up, with excellent comedic timing.
The bridge from The Donna Reed Show to the heartwarming and funny Leave It to Beaver series is an almost intolerable half-hour of I Love Lucy. I don’t like the character Lucille Ball plays. She’s loud, stupid, deceitful, sneaky and shallow. To make better use of those 30 minutes, I used that time to force feed myself something I could keep down.
For almost 6 weeks, before I returned to work, I believed the world was a very nice place to live in. I believed that no one cursed, hit anyone else, divorced their spouses, abused children, got into drunken brawls or twerked. “Affluenza,” global climate change and the Kardashians hadn’t been invented yet. Duck Dynasty dumbasses and puerile Housewives of Any City didn’t exist. No one was worrying about global climate change and fretting about the noodle brains who disavow it.
Ignorance WAS bliss and it had a powerful therapeutic effect. Though my sister worried about my addiction to long gone TV serials and winced when I explained the plot line of one particular episode of The Rifleman (another favorite of mine), I felt more relaxed, carefree and content than I had in ages. The world was new again and it was safe. I wanted to wear dresses and pearls everyday. I wanted to bake cakes with perfect icing.
Eventually, though, I got better and had to go back to work. Sigh. If I want to watch Leave It To Beaver, I’ll have to purchase it from Amazon. For now, I can only squeeze in The Donna Reed Show because it comes on right before I leave the house to walk to work. However, fortunately, two episodes of Leave It To Beaver are shown early Sunday morning. I discovered today that I’m now watching season one of LITB. Jerry Mathers sure was one cute little boy.
When my sister finds out about my ongoing TV watching habits, she’ll think I’ve lost my mind and need an intervention. She better mind herself, though, because I’m also now watching Petticoat Junction early during the weekdays and I might just come over and show her the Hooterville Hop.