Wednesday, August 28, 2013

This is Your Brain on 70's TV

I can run but I can't hide from the fact that I am a child of the 70's.  I grew up in the golden age of Tang, Astronaut Sticks and Funny Face Drink Mix.  My wardrobe included marshmallow shoes, bell-bottoms and denim vests. I wore a Danskin body suit with a wrap skirt and platform heels to the teen disco night at our local church, only to find that my outfit was too hip for the room. All of that had an impact on who I would become in life, but nothing could equal the impact of 1970's TV.

It all started innocently enough with The Partridge Family and The Brady Bunch, with their saccharine sweetness and teen heart throb actors.  But what really set the 70's apart were the made for TV movies and ABC After School Specials.  These were the 70's all served up with a side of morals and a lesson baked in for good measure.  The 70's was a time of transformation and the movies seemed to want to hammer these changes home with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

Here is a list of 10 TV Movies and TV Shows that left a memorable mark on my psyche and are probably responsible (in part) for whatever I am today. They are neither favorite, nor a finite list, just what I think is a representative slice of what kept me glued to the tube for a decade.

James at 15 16 - Lance Kerwin and his bowl cut.  I thought he was so adorable as he was wrestling with losing his V card and other important stuff.  His sister was played by none other than the notorious Kim Richards (of Real Housewives fame), who I wanted to be like for most of my childhood (glad I got over that desire).

Family - As Buddy Lawrence, I admired McNichol's feathered hair and her intensity. She had what were easily the squarest parents on network TV, but she kept her winged head and her teen angst high.

The Mod Squad - Peggy Lipton was yet another female from television whose silky, straight blond hair haunted me.  Add Eve Plumb, Maureen McCormick, Kim Richards and Meredith Baxter to the mix and this little auburn haired lass had enough toxic hair shame to fill a stadium.

Mary Tyler Moore - I loved all the characters on this TV show, but the episode where Mare and Lou Grant decide to date was where my suspension of disbelief ended.  Even at 9, I knew a babe like her wasn't going to be drawn to a gruff, middle aged, alcoholic news man like him.

The Odd Couple - To this day, I have nothing but love for Felix and Oscar.  I watched the Odd Couple in first run and for years after in late night repeats. I still find myself quoting this show.  I remember when the show went off the air.  Might have been the stupidest programming decision of the decade.

That Girl - At an early age, I can remember being confused by the message of That Girl.  She was supposed to be an independent wo-man who don't need no man to get by.  This was supposed to be our example of feminism.  However, for all her girl power, she was always surrounded by her dad and boyfriend, she had a job where she traded on her looks (she was a model, and how else could a young girl support herself?  Certainly not with her brain.) and she was a whiny little bitch who wouldn't give up the cookie to her blue balled boyfriend.  I never believed that there was any example of female empowerment in that show.

ABC After School Special (Various) - There were many after school specials, but Rookie of the Year took on women's issues when a 12 year old Jodie Foster wanted to play on the boy's baseball team. Oh the intensity.  Oh the drama.

I Dream of Jeanie - More blond hair to elevate my toxic hair shame.  But Major Anthony Nelson?  What a babe. Little did I know that his handsome exterior was just a shiny box to hold a liver that looked like a prune that did battle with a wood chipper.

Trilogy of Terror - Karen Black's turned eye + angry, poorly animated troll doll = unintentional comedy gold.

Boy in the Plastic Bubble - This was the golden age of John Travolta.  A role to make you forget about Vinnie Barbarino, if only for a moment. And Glynnis O'Connor, the hair of Glynnis O'Connor just stomped all over my self esteem.

Like Normal People - Sean Cassidy playing a mentally handicapped man who wants to marry his similarly handicapped girlfriend (Linda Purl).  I don't know whose LSD charged fever dream initiated this casting, but all I can say is bravo.

I guess I should wrap this up by letting you know that in spite of my teen aged hatred for and subsequent chemical and heat based torture of my auburn hair, I learned to love it by the time I was 19.  These days, I wouldn't want Marcia Brady's limp, lifeless mop for all the gold in Switzerland.  Given my hair obsession, is there any surprise that I went on to have a brief career as a hairdresser?  I had to get out there and create some redheads.

9 Your comments, banter and witty repartee:

Mom of the Perpetually Grounded said...

I don't know where to begin. Briefly hairdresser? Raises hand. Wanted Jan's hair-stuck with Marsha's fine straight-boring!
Raises hand. Died it red when I was 16- raises hand. Watched Mary Tyler Moore because she was cool, liked That Girl because she was pretty. Raises hand. Lost my respect for Kristie McNichol for cavorting in the woods with Matt Dillon at summer camp-he was mine!
Jeannie was ok but I wanted to be Samantha Stevens when I grew up. I was actually raised by Samantha. My daughters tell me they can see the resemblance.
After school special? Humming Nigel, Nigel, where'd you go? Raises hand : )

Mom of the Perpetually Grounded said...

Spelled dyed wrong. Raises hand.-Well I said SHORT hairdressing career : )

Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

MOTPG - Ah, I see...similarly afflicted. It's the 70's TV at work.

Lin said...

Oh and I are skipping down memory lane together right about now....

Patridge Family, Brady Bunch, followed up by a Love American Style chaser = hog heaven. Friday nights could only be better by adding Room 222 with Karen Valentine (who didn't want to be HER??!) and The Courtship of Eddie's Father.

My mom didn't approve of the topics of "Family", so I was left to going to be early and sneaking on the old black and white TV in my room to get my weekly fix of Buddy. Damn...all those cool clothes she had! I was a wanna-be. Well, except for the lesbian part (that I learned about later).

LOVED James at 16, The Hardy Boys (Shaun Cassidy), After School Specials (there was one where a girl's sister died--traumatized me to this day--it was sooo sad!), and sadly, I have to admit....Donny Osmond. Although David Cassidy was my one true love back in the day.

Ah, such lovely memories, DG! Who didn't want to be Marsha Brady when Davy Jones took her to the prom? Damn!

Lin said...


I was so excited, I forgot to spell right!

Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Lin - No shame here. I loved Donny and David. Here's a strange/funny fact about the end of my love for Donny Osmond - At some point I realized that his wholesomeness needed to go to the bathroom, which meant he had to touch his business. The image of him taking a wiz a giant toothy smile on his face and purple socks was so creepy to me that I had to stop watching Donny and Marie. True story. I know, I'm a weirdo.

Lin said...

That is very weird. Somehow I don't imagine David Cassidy taking a whiz is a pretty picture either. Blech.

Mom of the Perpetually Grounded said...

Donny Osmond whizzes?

Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

MOTPG- He must, right? Otherwise he'd be horribly jaundiced.

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