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Things I Once Believed Thanks to Television

April 25, 2012

Surely they can squeeze in a Cousin Oliver here?

1.)  That perhaps eight was not enough.  

(sources:  Eight is Enough, The Brady Bunch, Just the Ten of Us)

2.)  That immigrants were dim-witted and naive and that this is what made them lovable.  

(sources:  Taxi, Perfect Strangers, Mork and Mindy)

3.)  That aliens make great pets.  

(sources:  My Favorite Martian, Alf, The Flintstones, Mork and Mindy)

4.)  That “whoopee” must mean something funnier than the sound the cushion makes.  

(source:  The Newlywed Game)

5.)  That housework is easy and pretty and that chocolate layer cake must follow every meal.  

(sources:  Leave It to Beaver, Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best, The Jetsons)

Dear Lurch,
Mommy and Daddy scare me. Will you adopt me?

6.)  That housekeepers and butlers make better parents.

(sources:  The Brady Bunch, Gimme A Break, Family Affair, Mr. Belvedere, Who’s The Boss, Hazel, The Addams Family, The Jetsons)

7.)  That my parents were underachievers.

(sources:  The Cosby Show, Growing Pains, Family Ties)

8.)  That “making love” did not mean cutting out Valentine’s Day hearts and was best followed by a cigarette.

(sources:  Dallas, Knots Landing, Falcon Crest, Hotel, Dynasty)

9.)  That Ernie and Bert were just really good friends and that rent on Sesame Street was expensive.

(source:  Sesame Street)

"Are you as turned on right now as I am?"

10.)  That solving a person’s murder always leads to great romance.  

(sources:  Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Remington Steel, Moonlighting, Hart to Hart)

11.)  That being orphaned or losing a parent always leads to great comedy.  

(sources:  Full House, My Two Dads, The Brady Bunch, Who’s the Boss, Webster, Family Affair, Good Times, The Andy Griffith Show, Bachelor Father, Diff’rent Strokes, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, Punky Brewster, The Hogan Family aka Valerie aka Valerie’s Family)

12.)  That if you didn’t see the entire episode, you could catch up on the scenes you missed while the credits rolled.  

(sources:  nearly every TV show circa 1978 to 1988)

13.)  That being hit in the head with a frying pan will cause amnesia at worst.  

(sources:  too many cartoons, sitcoms and variety shows to adequately cite)

She looks so very familiar but I just can't seem to place her.

14.)  That the best cure for amnesia is to be hit in the head with a frying pan.

(sources:  too many cartoons, sitcoms and variety shows to adequately cite)

15.)  That eyeglasses, lipstick, a wig and/or a different hairstyle will make you unrecognizable to your own mother.  

(sources:  Looney Tunes, Adventures of Superman, The Brady Bunch, The Patty Duke Show, Bosom Buddies, The Geraldo Rivera Show)

106 Comments leave one →
  1. April 25, 2012 6:08 am

    Oh my god, the frying pan! I forgot about the frying pan element of 1970s-80s sitcoms. Why isn’t it used anymore? Was there a frying pan lobby that stopped it? I didn’t realize how much I missed it until this post.

    • Emily permalink
      April 25, 2012 7:10 am

      They did it on 3rd Rock from The Sun, in an early episode–Sally accidentally hits Harry with a frying pan, and he becomes smart for a second, and then each time he gets hit after that, his personality changes, until Dick hits him, and he goes back to normal. Mind you, 3rd Rock is really more of a show for adults.

      • April 25, 2012 9:02 pm

        I loved that show — but seriously, guys? Did you not think we’d remember this stunt from 1982? Dumb, dumb, dumb. No, really, that show was the greatest.

    • April 25, 2012 8:59 pm

      I started to respond to this comment seven hours ago. But then I blacked out for a while. I didn’t know what was going on and what I was doing when I blacked out, so I hit myself in the head with a frying pan and then I remembered I had to finish this comment response. Every day I thank God that I learned this on TV . . . just in case.

  2. April 25, 2012 6:25 am

    I’m so partial to #14. It never quite works out the same here in reality, though. (Hey…on another note, your blog is now popular enough for an ad! It’s been suggested to me that I click on Healthy Living to find “balance.” I so get that by this blog. You have arrived.)

    • April 25, 2012 9:05 pm

      Yeah, I’ve been using the catch-all response: “I’ve arrived/I’ve sold out.” If I end up at the very least getting my cup of blog-writing coffee paid for the month, it will be the smartest thing I’ve ever done.

      By the way, feel free to click on those ads one billion times. I’ll split whatever I get with you. Better yet, I’ll buy you a cup of coffee.

  3. April 25, 2012 6:45 am

    Hmm. I wonder if all I ever did was watch TV as a kid. I know almost all those shows plus tons you didn’t name. Just don’t tell my kids. They hardly get to watch it at all! I mean, I don’t want them getting any ideas. Next thing I know, they’ll expect layer cakes after every meal and homemade cookies after school. Psh.

    • April 25, 2012 9:08 pm

      Yeah, my own expectations of moms ended up being way too high thanks to my TV-watching. I’m with you. I don’t want to expose my kids to that crock and give them any ideas. Nope. Only the best apple-slices-for-dessert in my household.

    • Emily permalink
      April 26, 2012 11:27 am

      Layer cakes after every meal? Even breakfast?

      • April 28, 2012 1:59 pm

        I suppose in that case they’re called pancakes.

  4. April 25, 2012 6:51 am

    You mean chocolate layer cake doesn’t follow every meal in your house?

    • April 25, 2012 9:08 pm

      Where do you live and when can I move in?

    • April 25, 2012 9:09 pm

      It does here. Want to come to dinner?

      • April 25, 2012 9:14 pm

        I don’t know…do you wash it down with beer in your house? June and Ward never did but that’s sort of what I was hoping for.

      • April 25, 2012 9:19 pm

        Oh yeah. Warm beer, ’cause that’s all I got. And tonight, it was Little Debbie’s ’cause I was too lazy to bake.

    • April 25, 2012 9:10 pm

      I think that’s a “jinx” Angie. You owe me a soda.

      • April 25, 2012 9:15 pm

        And then I’m an idiot for responding to your invitation that was directed at Paprika. That’s so like me to just invite myself over.

      • April 25, 2012 9:20 pm

        More the merrier, I always say. Just don’t drink all my beer.

      • April 25, 2012 9:18 pm

        So that’s soda and chocolate cake. I’m in. What’s your address?

  5. April 25, 2012 6:51 am

    #5 is still true, isn’t it? Well, if you take away the idea that housework is easy and pretty and just leave the fact that chocolate layer cake after every meal is a good thing.

    #10!! Oh! Many a night I would watch all of those shows and dreamed of a man I could solve murders with….sigh….I loved Remington Steele so much I had two parakeets when I was 12 and named them Laura and Remy. (I can’t make this crap up, it’s true)

    • April 25, 2012 9:18 pm

      I think I might’ve hurt a lot of hearts around here by exposing the layer cake after dinner myth. Why was there always a half eaten layer cake sitting in everyone’s refrigerators? Who just has layer cakes sitting around in their refrigerators for no special occasion?

      Laura and Remy are great parakeet names! Better than Hart and Hart. Or Lame and Lame for that matter.

  6. Emily permalink
    April 25, 2012 6:57 am

    For the last one, you forgot Saved By The Bell. Remember the episode where Jessie gets addicted to caffeine pills? Well, early on in that episode, Screech dresses as a female janitor in order to sneak into the girls’ locker room, and tape-record the girls singing, because for some reason, they always sing in there.

    • April 25, 2012 9:13 pm

      That’s a great reference, Emily. However, with all due respect, I did not forget anything — I simply didn’t believe it. I was in high school when I finally started watching Saved by the Bell. So most of it seemed pretty silly to me by then. (You should read my post on “very special” TV episodes where I reference that same SBTB skit. Yes indeedy, that episode was Very Special.)

      • Emily permalink
        April 26, 2012 11:31 am

        Oh, of course it was silly, especially that episode–I mean, for one thing, Screech didn’t look like a woman; he looked like Screech in drag with a bad Scottish accent, and for another, Jessie was only taking the caffeine pills for a few days, and she became completely addicted, and blacked out from them, and then all of a sudden, after she came to, she “saw the light,” she said her mom was taking her to the doctor the next day, and as far as I know, she never did anything stupid again.

  7. April 25, 2012 7:06 am

    2) was SPOT ON!

    Cousin Balki…

    • April 25, 2012 9:22 pm

      Thanks, Oak! And thank you for giving a shout-out to Cousin Balki. By the way, I was in high school before I realized that Mypos was not a real country.

      • April 25, 2012 9:34 pm

        IT’S NOT A REAL COUNTRY?!?!?

      • April 25, 2012 9:36 pm

        I know, I know. And I probably failed my 7th grade geography test for this very reason.

      • April 25, 2012 9:44 pm

        :) You, and the rest of American children…

        I still get pretty embarrassed around my international friends over such lack of awareness…sigh…

      • April 25, 2012 9:55 pm

        Here in America, we might not know what’s going on with Syria, but we can at least tell you what’s going on with the Kardashians. Super!

  8. April 25, 2012 7:21 am

    Yes, we all believed. Esp #6 and its corollary, #11.
    And if I may add:
    -That if you marry a Cartwright, you will die within an hour.
    -That kidnapped people didn’t need to go to the bathroom.
    -That Cabot Cove, Maine is the most dangerous place in the world. There’s a murder EVERY WEEK!

    • April 25, 2012 9:26 pm

      I wonder now if Jessica Fletcher had everything to do with all the murders around Cabot Cove. Think about it. If people weren’t dying, what good was she? What would she write about? Sick, sick, sick.

  9. April 25, 2012 7:56 am

    Oh, I loved Just the Ten of Us. It made my family look normal-sized :)

    • April 25, 2012 9:27 pm

      Yeah, and I bet good money that their daughters didn’t follow your mom’s “no dating men who drive vans” rule.

  10. Tony permalink
    April 25, 2012 7:58 am

    No love for Gilligan’s Island???

    • April 25, 2012 9:28 pm

      How did I forget Gilligan?! You’re right. And Gilligan’s Island perfected the frying pan to the head stunt. Only, I think it was a coconut in that case.

  11. April 25, 2012 8:21 am

    Each one of these is a brilliant gem, Angie. I think it is hilarious that No. 11 had the most excamples. (11.) That being orphaned or losing a parent always leads to great comedy.)
    Coincidentally, most comedians have tragic childhoods.
    Angie, you make this look so easy. You are good – real good!

    • April 25, 2012 9:32 pm

      Lenore, your comments always brighten up my day. And I mean that. And I’m going to embroider those very words onto a pillow (right after I puffy-paint a smiley sunshine onto it) and mail it to you so you can throw it in your car and look like you’re 90 driving around with an embroidered throw pillow in your backseat. I know this might not sound appealing but whatever it takes to get that idea across to you.

  12. April 25, 2012 8:38 am

    I believed that quicksand was EVERYWHERE. People in action shows were constantly falling in quicksand, and I once got my feet sucked down about 4-inches in a muddy ditch, and thought, “This is it. Quicksand. I knew it’d get me sooner or later.”

    • April 25, 2012 1:10 pm

      Yes! The quicksand! I was always very wary when walking through the woods because you never know…

      • April 25, 2012 9:58 pm

        And often times no one realized they were standing in it until it was up to their knees. Like you’re just going to be having a conversation and slowly becoming shorter before you realize what’s happening.

    • April 25, 2012 9:34 pm

      You are so right about that quicksand thing! You know, if you were smart and watched MacGyver, you would’ve always carried around a wad of gum, dental floss and a paperclip in your pocket just for this very reason.

      • April 26, 2012 7:24 am

        Oh quicksand! Tarzan movies made me fear quicksand. I will NEVER go to Africa!

      • April 28, 2012 2:17 pm

        It’s no wonder that Tarzan swung from vines. Quicksand was all around him at all times.

    • April 27, 2012 5:28 am

      Oh, crap you just reminded me of the quick sand nightmares. They will probably start up again now.

      • April 28, 2012 2:00 pm

        It’s okay — lock your doors and I don’t think it can come inside. But I would avoid any nature walks if I were you.

  13. Emily Liston permalink
    April 25, 2012 9:38 am

    I think I still believe number 6, as I am currently (finally) reading The Help. Gosh, I wish my parents weren’t such underachievers so they could have paid some immigrant minimum wage or less to teach me and my sisters very important life lessons. :)

    • April 25, 2012 10:26 am


    • April 25, 2012 10:04 pm

      The parents on some of these shows were often so flaky and self-absorbed and then the hired help would swoop in and save the day! I completely forgot to add Charles in Charge in here. Some college guy moves in and seems better suited for parenting than the parents. Perfect.

      • April 28, 2012 1:20 pm

        Wait. Wait just a minute. I’ve modeled my parenting completely on these flaky and self-absorbed folks. You mean I shouldn’t have? Damn. Now you tell me.

  14. April 25, 2012 10:25 am

    My mother could never measure up to that of the Huckstables or Tanners…made me wonder sometimes what other lives would be like. Thanks!

    • April 25, 2012 10:06 pm

      I don’t think anybody’s parents measured up to the Huxtables. They were model parents. And then Dr. Huxtable had all the sweaters I wished my dad was wearing. And then they had two sets of staircases. And Denise dressed cooler than anyone I’d ever met in my life. And culturally diverse art hung on the walls. Everything was better there.

  15. April 25, 2012 11:59 am

    I always thought it would be cool if my parents got divorced and remarried someone with 3 kids so that we’d have a Brady Bunch family. Mom didn’t like the idea nearly as well.

    • April 25, 2012 10:12 pm

      Yes, the Bradys made it look way more fun to be in a blended family. And the more kids in the family, the more likely your parents would hire a wacky live-in housekeeper. Who wouldn’t want that?

  16. Teresa Cleveland Wendel permalink
    April 25, 2012 12:48 pm

    And I wanted my parents to die in a shipwreck so I could live alone on an island. Any sitcoms about that? (I wasn’t allowed much tv as a kid, but I’m making up for all those wasted years now with TVLand.)

    • April 25, 2012 10:18 pm

      Um, hello? Gilligan’s Island meets Family Affair! Like a match made in orphaned-stranded heaven.

      We don’t have cable in my house or I’d be wasting away to TV Land every night of the week.

  17. April 25, 2012 1:33 pm

    Wait, you mean aliens don’t make good pets? Crap.

    • April 25, 2012 10:20 pm

      Don’t panic. If you give him back now, he’ll still have plenty of time to bond with a new family. Maybe put an old t-shirt in his box so he can remember your scent.

      • April 25, 2012 11:20 pm

        but…but he irons my underwear so well!!

      • April 28, 2012 1:46 pm

        That is definitely worth all the headache of having to look at rainbow suspenders again.

  18. April 25, 2012 2:24 pm

    Haha I love this, it’s all so true!

    • April 25, 2012 10:22 pm

      Thanks! It is indeed all true. I still believe all of it. Well, maybe not #2 because then I’d be a bigot. And maybe not #11 because then I’d be sadistic. But definitely the frying pan one.

      • April 26, 2012 12:34 am

        For me, #9 & #15 were true in my mind for years.

      • April 28, 2012 2:18 pm

        I loved when they had “disguised” people on old ’80s talk shows. Always in a wig and glasses. “Who are you? You look just like the woman who works in my office except she has brown hair, not black — so I guess you can’t be her.”

  19. April 25, 2012 2:36 pm

    Those were the days!

    • April 25, 2012 10:23 pm

      Is this an Archie Bunker All in the Family reference? Either way, I am so kicking myself now for completely snubbing it on my list.

      • May 5, 2012 4:53 pm

        All in the Family was definitely a “formative” part of my childhood…I had real LIVE grandparents that I could have sworn Edith and Archie were emulating! Wow! That says way too much about my childhood, maybe?

      • May 8, 2012 1:19 pm

        I loved All in the Family, too. But I probably shouldn’t have been watching it at such a young age since the sarcasm and satire were completely lost on me.

  20. April 25, 2012 5:10 pm

    My parents WERE underachievers. Whenever Marcia got a zit, Mike & Carol showed up full of parental concern to offer advice and support. I blame my parents for all my problems because they didn’t follow this fabulous example.

    • April 25, 2012 10:29 pm

      I was actually more or less referencing the fact that my parents weren’t both lawyers and doctors and architects — but I completely failed to include the fact that my parents, comparatively, were also underachievers in the parenting department. Yes, compared to Mike and Carol, my parents were like the two teenagers in a home economics class trying to keep their baby raw egg in tact.

      “Marcia has a zit. A very special episode.”

  21. April 25, 2012 5:39 pm

    Ha! These are great – especially 7. 9. 10. I learned that couches were very easy to trip over (Three’s Company) And LOVED Mork and Mindy – I learned a lot about the allure of suspenders on that show.

    • April 25, 2012 10:31 pm

      Yes, couches were so easy to trip over! And, if you lie behind them, you would be invisible. Which comes in perfect when you’re trying to overhear someone’s conversation. And then swinging kitchen doors were also perfect for eavesdropping too. No one will ever suspect that someone’s hidden away in the kitchen listening to them. Never!

  22. April 25, 2012 10:13 pm

    That’s brilliant. You should write for TV. No, seriously.

    I’ll tell you what I learnt as a kid (but not from the TV) – I learnt that the Equator was an invisible lion that circled the world. I remember being very scared of the invisible lion but consoled myself with the knowledge that the equator was not in England, but rather in other countries and so I was safe.

    • April 25, 2012 10:35 pm

      TV might very well be where I belong — I plan on making my first million when I bring The Father Dowling Mysteries back to the airwaves.

      What is this about an invisible lion? I get that it’s supposed to be “line” but is this some kind of weird cartoon character you had in England that taught you about world geography? By the way, you still haven’t given me credit on the fact that Simon the chalk-drawing kid was indeed born from Your People’s imaginations. I loved that kid.

      • April 25, 2012 10:39 pm

        Invisible lion… no… not from the TV :) I just misheard what the teacher said…

        RE that chalky guy… sorry, I still have no clue what you’re talking about LOL :P

      • April 25, 2012 10:47 pm

        For God sake then watch this. How did this get across the Atlantic to every kid in the ’70s yet you’ve never seen it? It makes no sense to me.

      • April 25, 2012 11:00 pm

        LOL I don’t know which is funnier… your indignation or the fact that you hunted down a clip… :P

        Sorry… never seen it before in my life, although I’m 99% certain that’s Bernard Cribbins narrating. I met him once. Super nice guy. As soon as I find an appropriate song, I’ll write about it. Probably.

      • April 25, 2012 11:02 pm

        Hey, I hunted it down for my own sanity’s sake. I had to prove that I didn’t hallucinate it during a fever-ridden home sick day.

        Bernard narrates a chalk-drawing kid exceptionally well.

      • April 25, 2012 11:05 pm

        How do you know you didn’t hallucinate hunting down the clip? How do you know this conversation isn’t simply a figment of your imagination? Hmmmm…?

        Bernard Cribbins has appeared twice in Doctor Who as two completely different characters, so he’s okay in my book :)

  23. April 26, 2012 2:52 am

    Feel like I just tripped down my childhood. :-)

    • April 28, 2012 2:02 pm

      Jack Tripper-style over a couch?

      • April 28, 2012 4:49 pm

        How did you see that? ALthough Dick Van Dyke did figure out in season two to skip around it LOL

      • April 28, 2012 4:57 pm

        Wow! You’re so right! I forgot all about that move. It was even on the intro to the show. Boy, The Dick Van Dyke Show totally got ripped off by Three’s Company.

      • April 28, 2012 4:59 pm

        But Dick had a better job… LOL Oh, and funnier friends. Not to mention lacked some color other than black and white :D

      • April 28, 2012 5:12 pm

        Yes, he had a great job! Even better than Darrin Stephens on Bewitched.

      • April 28, 2012 5:51 pm

        I felt bad for Darrin when his head swelled up as big as it did in the later seasons… ;-)

      • April 29, 2012 9:14 am

        No kidding!

  24. April 26, 2012 7:22 am

    Came back to read all the comments – and they are so terrific, I think you need another round of this.
    And my the way, my parents were TERRIBLE. If I had a zit they said, “So What?” It’s a miracle I survived.

    • April 28, 2012 2:03 pm

      You are right — I so could’ve written another list about another one-hundred shows. I will do another round after everyone forgets about this one.

      You poor thing. Your parents sound so wicked. Clearly they didn’t love you.

  25. April 26, 2012 3:25 pm

    Hahaha I love it! I always remember wishing my mom was more like all the moms on sitcoms. They were so blissfully ignorant of what their kids were up to. Unfortunately my mom paid more attention than that. Damn her.

    Oh and because your posts have never failed to make me laugh, I’ve nominated you for an award! I’m sure you’ve gotten it 5 times before, because you have creativity coming out of the yin yang, but here you go

    • April 28, 2012 2:06 pm

      It’s sort of an abstract show in the general scheme of old shows but I loved The Donna Reed Show especially — and at one time wished my mom would be just like Donna Stone.

      Thank you so much for your stamp of approval — I really appreciate your kind words and the award nod!

  26. April 26, 2012 7:40 pm

    Ha! And to think I sometimes wonder why I turned out the way I did. “That Ernie and Bert were just really good friends.” …Exxxactly. OMG. They should totally guest star on Glee (one of my favorite shows of modern-day).

    • April 28, 2012 2:07 pm

      I don’t think Bert could carry a tune (I remember his song and dance about pigeons) but Ernie seems well-suited for a guest starring role.

  27. April 27, 2012 1:02 am

    Good concept, great post. The thing I learned most from TV was that people could crack jokes that weren’t funny but somehow a whole studio audience laughed hysterically.

    • April 28, 2012 2:10 pm

      Great example, Les — I definitely should’ve included the laugh track phenomenon on here. I remember when I first started watching comedic shows without a laugh track — I think they became more prominent in the ’90s — like Wonder Years and such. I didn’t know what to do. I was so trained to only laugh with other people. Is this funny? If so, why is no one laughing? I guess I don’t know what funny is after all. I guess I don’t like this show after all.

  28. April 28, 2012 1:21 pm

    I think this post may just sum up the reasons you don’t have cable TV. It is all on a continuous loop in your head. Why pay for it?

    • April 28, 2012 2:14 pm

      This is so deep, Elyse. You are right. I also think my continuous mental loop of these shows causes me to not enjoy today’s shows. How can I laugh at anything on TV now when it doesn’t include a big misunderstanding about a man living with two female roommates. Everything pales in comparison to slapsticking in butterfly collars.

      • April 28, 2012 2:16 pm

        How can you laugh at any of the things on TV today. They aren’t funny. And they aren’t reality in spite of being dubbed “reality shows.” Of course the news, that can be downright hilarious at times. Never intentionally, though.

      • April 28, 2012 2:20 pm

        “Are there snakes in your walls? The answer may surprise you. Story at 10.” Super!

  29. russelllindsey permalink
    April 28, 2012 8:09 pm

    Reblogged this on Ramblings of a Misguided Blonde and commented:
    Sadly TV was such a big part of my childhood I could have written a version of this post. If you haven’t already, check out Angie Z.

    • April 29, 2012 9:15 am

      Thanks, Lindsey!

      • russelllindsey permalink
        April 29, 2012 9:17 am

        You’re welcome. I was a bit of a TV nerd as a kid.


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