When I was younger, I wanted to be an actress; however, I didn’t want to be just any type of actress. I wanted to be a television actress on sitcoms from the 1960s.
Of course, as I got older, I realized that was not a feasible career path. That time has passed forever. Television today is an entirely different industry than television was in the golden age.
Living with older parents, I grew up watching the shows that my parents watched when they were kids: “I Love Lucy,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “The Andy Griffith Show,” “Bewitched,” “M*A*S*H”—pretty much every classic that one can imagine. Spending evenings taking in everything that those shows had to offer shaped me into the person I am today.
How much can a television show teach? It is a valid point, as researchers point out the negatives of children who watch too much screen time. With the right balance and the right frame of mind, there is a lot to learn from watching classic television.
In 1961, Mary Tyler Moore played the protagonist’s wife in “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” She fought with the television network to allow her character to wear pants while on screen.
Moore claimed that she would not wear a dress while cleaning her house, and she wanted her character to be genuine. At the beginning, the network compromised with her and allowed her one scene per episode where she could wear pants.
Mary Tyler Moore starred in her own series as a single working woman beginning in 1970. Through the progression of television shows, part of history was recorded; as a young girl watching these shows, I witnessed this history and was inspired by her dedication.
While watching “M*A*S*H”, my interest was piqued to learn more about the Korean War. Still I know more about the Korean War than any other conflict in our nation’s history.
Classic television actors and actresses usually had talent in multiple disciplines. By watching a 30-minute show, I would often see not only quality acting, but fantastic singing, dancing and musical talent, as well. My appreciation for all art forms was strengthened through my interest in these programs.
Moore’s character in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was a woman who worked in a newsroom, and I cannot help but assume that her career choice might have influenced mine. Many times I think that who I am might be a little bit of each character who influenced me throughout my life.
Maybe Lucy inspired my love of chocolate, and Mary my love of news. Laura might have instilled my hope to raise a family, and Hawkeye of “M*A*S*H” might have encouraged my patriotism.
“Bewitched” might have helped me to realize that there is beauty in working for what you want, and the good people of Mayberry reminded me that there is nothing a good day by the lake won’t fix.
All of the classic television shows that I grew up watching had an influence on me, and I think they were supposed to. Even though I am older, I never will pass on an opportunity to indulge in a classic, and sometimes I get a little reminder that I am going to make it after all.