I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic for my childhood lately.
Before you all start getting smart-assy, yes, I Bella Blitz, HAD a childhood. I wasn’t always this amazingness before you today. Geesh.
Anyway. Childhood. Nostalgia.
I’ve mostly been feeling nostalgic for the shows I used to watch as a latch-key kid; freshly home from school, homework done on the bus and exactly two hours to veg in front of the boob tube before rushing to finish chores as Mama Blitz pulled into the driveway after work. I didn’t grow up in a household where very much was censored from me. I was allowed to watch rated R movies well before anyone should and TV was pretty much left up to my better judgement; since I preferred to read anyway. However, there were a handful of shows that Mama Blitz put her foot down on; namely, The Simpons, Married With Children, Beavis and Butthead and You Can’t Do That On Television.
Side story: Sometimes when I couldn’t sleep (insomnia has never eluded me, even as a teenage Blitz) I would wake up and watch TV with Papa Blitz. Often The Simpsons, Married with Children or Beavis and Butthead. We would sit in the glow from the TV late at night and belly laugh to ourselves. The unspoken understanding being that Mama Blitz should never know that either of us were enjoying such casual rated-pg smut.
Oh my. You Can’t Do That On Television. I haven’t thought about that show in a long while. If you’re my age you grew up on a few certain shows in the afternoon after school. Most people came home and plugged right into Saved By The Bell. Some came home and tuned into afternoon cartoons – which should have included Darkwing Duck. Fuck you if you don’t like Darkwing Duck. Others, still, came home and plopped in front of Nickelodeon tuning into You Can’t Do That On Television. I fucking loved Nickelodeon growing up. Fuck that. I fucking LOVE Nickelodeon, but this article isn’t about my love for Nick. It’s about my longing to watch You Can’t Do That On Television.
Now, if you’ve never seen the show, get out there and do it. Right now. Go find a clip or a reel or a what-the-fuck-ever of this show and just revel in the knowledge that someone thought this was a GREAT after-school program AND that it ran for FOUR years. Initially from 1979-1981 and then in reruns on Nickelodeon from 1990-1994. Thank the gods for reruns. Seriously. The show was a sketch comedy show featuring some, now rather well-known, teen actors and actresses. It was ridiculous and gross and rude and fun! It was a splendid place to let the shit-storm of teenage life drain away and laugh at something more heinous than whatever you were going through, complete with firing squad jokes (yes, firing squad and teenagers), locker jokes and Barth’s Burgers – a place NO MAN would want to eat.
Side story: The locker jokes from You Can’t Do That On Television stuck with me for a while. My first job at a Big Gay K-mart (we called it Big Gay K-mart because my best friend was gay and He dubbed it this) when I was 16 was met with a friendship with a girl name Alex. When we would work together we would spend our hours at the checkout or loading up the cigarettes and call out to each other “Hey, Alex” … “Hey, Bella”. Good times. Good times.
Anyway, Mama Blitz, for whatever reason, had caught an episode and had taken issue with the “treatment” of the mother character in one of the skits. She was a little more Suzy Homemaker and the husband was a little more Lazy Bastard than in most shows and the teens – well – they were sarcastic and smart and better than both parents. This, I came to find out, was the same reason I wasn’t allowed to watch the other shows previously mentioned. I remember the conversation vividly. “You’re not going to watch a show that is demeaning to parents and mother specifically.” I was flabbergasted.
Here’s the thing parents: teenagers don’t need TV to learn how to be disrespectful or rude to you. They learn that all on their own with help from their peers. You Can’t Do That On Television wasn’t teaching me shit about how to treat my folks. It was helping me laugh after surviving school as a teenage girl.
Now, I’m not saying that to breed geeks you need to run out and find this show on BluRay (if that’s even a thing); just don’t be so removed from your own childhood that you forget that your teenager will need some form of outlet and sometimes a TV show as insane as You Can’t Do That On Television is exactly what they need. Plus – I can say with full confidence that You Can’t Do That On Television is solely responsible for my enjoyment of Monty Python movies. Which, for reasons unknown to me, I WAS allowed to watch.