5 highly educational, family friendly TV shows our children must see...
Here below, find a list of surprisingly valuable opportunities to turn TV time into a finely cloaked lesson plan for life. Think of it like those recipes with "hidden" vegetables inside, sure, a little sneaky but tons more fun for the entire family and far less labor intensive. Now, you may laugh (perhaps, even scoff) as you continue but by all means, stay with me. The truth is, the very idea of some of these choices will strike you as funny (and they are) but if you think it through you will agree they are undoubtedly packed with helpful information for a well rounded psyche.
In my humble opinion, it is also important to note that full family participation is crucial for the highest impact. As any shared experience, it creates cohesive thought and understanding for things to follow.
1. Leave it to Beaver
This one is obvious. Who in the world doesn't love the Beav? He's an adorable, inquisitive, sweet and just all-around great kid. I see a bit of him in every child. It is easy to relate to his efforts to navigate the world. All kids should know Beaver Cleaver!
As wholesome as it gets, this program is busting at the seams with family values like respect, honesty, kindness toward your fellow man. Laid out like the perfect dinner table June provides every morning, noon and night we are given a straightforward dose of the sweet life. No need for a sophisticated sense of humor here. The pressure to "get the joke" is off. The Ward family, is charmingly retro "traditional" and by no means exemplifies the current average household but the intrinsic value is still there to see how it was defined. Most kids today are beautifully open to a great many things from which other generations had to overcome biases. They are keen to a much higher echelon of awareness due to the influx of light-speed stimuli they've grown accustomed. Herein lies the perfect example of providing a picture for innocent archaic comparison. And yet, there is a timeless essence to the simple things we can all still recognize, like, the disconcerted stink-eye of a parent about to lecture someone.
Young and old alike will roll in the aisles with schadenfreudian glee as they enjoy the day to day trials of Ward, June, (the dreamy) Wally and the Beaver Cleaver!
Core Topics: problem solving, table manners
and etiquette, parental respect, dealing with consequences, and the list goes on...
Role Modelling: ***** out of 5 stars for all characters (except maybe that Eddie Haskell)
Theme Song: YAY - peppy and very catchy!
2. Gilligan's Island
Those familiar with this excellent piece of television history will already know and strenuously agree that everything a person needs to know can be learned "here on Gilligan's Isle".
I will admit, further, that I have a theory that one could even create a DIY educational curriculum using only information gathered from this vast chasm of information (but that is a topic for another day).
I must begin with the obvious fact that within the ranks of this show's cast is an actual, bona-fide Professor! I mean, it can't get more real than that. He is well versed in every arena of useful knowledge. If I may be so bold, I might even call him the wiki-master. If there is ever a question, he knows the answer. He can fix anything, make batteries last for years, tell you calmly what to do in an emergency AND he can make anything of your hearts desiring from a coconut. Plus, he ain't too shabby to look at either... although, he is a bit aloof, hmm...
I digress. SO, as if all those weren't enough to convince you of the importance of Gilligan's Island as our one and only tenet for a long and fruitful life (wait, what?), I will go on.
The Howells are each experts in their own right. Thurston Howell, III, is a hard core business man, very rich and powerful, an expert in economic deal making. He knows all when it comes to the world of finance and inflated self worth. His wife, the adoring Lovey, is ,without a doubt, the authority on proper dress and decorum for any occasion. She is the reason they were so well packed for a simple boat tour. DUH! Much can be surmised here about the woman behind the mogul. Do not underestimate Lovey! 'Tis, alright, I know that you don't...
But more importantly, together they exemplify the inane value of snooty excess and wealth in a place where it no longer holds meaning. Now, come on, who doesn't need this harsh example to snap them out of the gluttonous haze of our ofttimes idiotic society? That's right, you do!
How awesome is that? Core values, need I say more? Well, I'm gonna...
And, if that last one didn't get existential enough for ya, try this one on for size... Ginger and Marianne offer insight into a vexing conundrum ever vital in the upbringing of young gentlemen and ladies. To break it down, it is simply the choice between one extreme or another in reference to ALL the given decisions in life. Do we really want the seemingly sexy, shiny, alluring option or the more practical, home grown, realistic option. We find this
dichotomy at all ages and in all places throughout our years. Each option has pros and cons to be considered. Sometimes in life we may be able to fashion a middle ground combo of our choices but in some instances, like in choosing a friend, or a personality trait, or clothing we must select one or the other. Take this opportunity to plant seeds of wise choices and clear vices to your mini-mes, brah.
What about the Skipper and Gilligan? (I can hear you, screaming...) Well, what NOT about them?
The Mighty Skipper is the quintessential anger issue bully with the soft side with whom we all must encounter somewhere in real life. He is quick to the fuse but always comes around. Behind his gruff exterior he is obviously a capable mariner with the skills of a powerful leader. He has, after all, saved them all from a death at sea! He is not all bad, even though we still may dread his wrath.
The true heartfelt relationship between these two is just like so many we have to acquire in life. Sometimes through no fault of our own we just happen like someone despite the trouble they cause us. That's a little thing called unconditional love, people! When you can appreciate a person just as they are with no further expectations you evolve psychologically to a higher level. This is a goal of life, the brass ring, the holy grail, the... eh, whatevs. The Skipper and his Little Buddy are a touching reminder of the infuriating relationships we have with co-workers, teammates, and relatives throughout this wonderful life. *sigh* Use the opportunity to discuss it with the young-uns. This is the juice, my brothers and sisters! (huh? i dunno just go with it...)
Now, Gilligan, oh, Gilligan... He is the "aw, shucks" in all of us. He is the "oops-a-daisies" and "uh-oh-puh-sgettios" we all encounter at some point or another. We love him despite the rolling of our eyes and shaking of our heads. He assures us that mistakes are okay and that life will go on. As the lovable misfit, Gilligan teaches us empathy for the underdog. We root for him even as we are watching him walk backward into the cactus patch. Our kids need to see and feel both sides of his "schmuckiness" and like him anyway. That way they learn to discern for themselves what true kindness and acceptance is like. Gilligan gives us hope. Now, admit it, we all need a goodly dose of that!
Core Topics: Science, Economics, Architecture (Hut building), Cooking, Perseverance,
Unconditional friendship, Tolerance, Survival Skills, Camping Do's and Don'ts, need I go on?
Role Modelling: **** out of 5 stars for all characters
(only 4 since some parental guidance is required in regard to possible class clown temptations)
Theme Song: YAY - sing along!
3. Sanford and Son
Don't worry Aunt Esther, I wouldn't leave it out! Simmer down, now...
Okay, here is where the rubber hits the road. Fred Sanford and his son, Lamont (best name EVER, btw) are the proprietors of an Antiques and Collectibles establishment. They hold onto the other man's treasure till he comes a'lookin' for it. In other words, they own a junkyard. Truthfully, Fred Sanford is almost certainly television's first "picker". So, there is a wee bit of value in a historical context on this program but the real pearls lie between the dust and the patina.
Fred, ever in the midst of some or other mess, has the most serious condition of a hypochondria-tic heart disease. He is forever clutching his heart and professing a warning to deceased wife, Olivia, "I'm comin' ta see ya, honey!" These attacks of his always seem to arise with perfect timing for him to avoid dealing with difficult questions or issues in his life. Not unlike the fable about The Boy Who Cried Wolf, everyone has become fully aware of his ruse and takes his antics with a grain of salt. But it never fails for Fred to find in the end that if he'd just been honest from the start everything could have been avoided. Great lesson for the kiddo's, folks!
Lamont (awesome!), his level headed son, is the perfect example of serenity and parental patience. Though most often visibly frustrated, he is courteous and calm with his father. He shows no disrespect. Yet, he never fails to get his point across. That isn't to say that Lamont doesn't occasionally get into some trouble, too.(Ya Big Dummy!) Ultimately, the ballet of bumbles these two work through together is gloriously endearing.
On top of all that, Aunt Esther and Grady, two entirely different temperaments, give lovely insight into a soft spoken, passive male influence and a loud, boisterous female one. Plus, that woman knows how to give the stink eye! I think she may have invented it!
Anyhoo, hilarity ensues at every turn coupled with a sprinkling of melodrama suited perfectly to taste. It is true, it doesn't pack the punch of say, Gilligan's Island, on core material but it is too worthy to miss. Great theme music, too:)
Core Topics: Psychology, Sociology, Economics, Patience, Early warning signs of Heart Attack, History.
Role Modelling: * out of 5 stars for Lamont (love it!) but the others are more... anti-models.
Theme Song: super YAY
4. The Andy Griffith Show
Seriously, if you missed this one as a child, something went wrong at your house. But I'm not really one to judge, ya freak! (just jokes)
Now, goodness, where to begin... just in case we have some freaks out there... Andy Griffith is the sheriff of Mayberry, the prettiest little town you could imagine. He lives with his son, Opie, and his Aunt Bea.
The absolute peachee-keen part of this show is the whistling tutorial at the beginning. Learning the tune is a rite of passage into becoming a true part of American society. Everyone must know how to whistle the theme of The Andy Griffith Show. period. It could happen anywhere, elevator, bus, random public bathroom... someone will begin and it is mandatory for all others present to join them. Just think how tragically humiliating it could be for your child to be caught unawares in such a situation by not knowing how to whistle the tune! collective gasp! Okay, I made all that up but it is still a great lesson in whistling and super fun. Among the many key elements of value in the gazillion available episodes are important tips and instruction on (but not limited to) whistling, aforesaid, fishing, law enforcement, the dangers of alcohol and the biggie, of paramount importance... The Golden Rule!! (psst... "always tell the truth", yo)
The charm of the southern drawl and genteel manners are the perfect wholesome brain snack for children of all ages. Plus, if the real life success of Opie Cunningham (as we call him at our house) is not a clear indicator of a successful upbringing for a child, I dunno what is!
Go on, visit Mayberry! You'll be glad ya did.
Core Topics: Whistlin', fishin', drankin' (is bad). Law enforcement, Sociology.
Role Modelling: ***** out of 5 stars for everyone except the drunk guy, Otis.
Theme Song: YAY (i dare ya not to get it stuck in your head)
and finally, Numero Cinco, drum roll, please...
5. Hee Haw (wait, hear that? is that angels singing - nope, Jug Band.)
The undisputed, best hour of television for the entire family out there, bar none! This program has it all. It is the king of "low brow know how"! Do not be fooled by imitations. The nuggets of wisdom encased in batter deep fat fried to a crispy golden brown are TOO often overlooked by scholars who feel themselves a cut above the company of a genu-ine Jug Band. But listen, my nay-sayers, doubting poopers of parties... Go there and you will see... The land of Hee Haw encompasses many, many realms of powerful and useful knowledge. Take the sage advice given here, in a poem (most often sung like a symphony of the gods):
"Where, oh, where are you tonight?
Why did you leave me here all alone?
I searched the world over
and thought I'd found true love.
But you met another and
Pfft, you was gone."
The simplicity and beauty in those words ring so true. And yet so many have simply laughed off the lessons available within the Hee Haw hall of glory.
Now, indulge me, and envision the Jug Band. Do you see what I mean?
Yes, of course, you say, I see it! Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! These guys have found a second use for all the items on which they play their heavenly music. How incredibly beautiful is that, right?!
And Minnie Pearl, with her fancy hat, so sweetly ignorant and oblivious to the faux pas of the obvious price tag hanging from it.
But let's look at it on the lighter side, away from all this serious stuff, yonder on the corny side of the field, if you will... the humor and silliness engaged in during this show are a glowing example of life at its best. Are the characters the richest? No. Are they the smartest? No. Are they anything you aspire to be? Nnnn..er wait, right there! I think they just may be. Ignorance is bliss, my lovelies. Don't forget it. And if there could be a magically diverting hour available out there to make you forget all your troubles, then you darn tootin' shouldn't miss it for the world. Here it is, righ-cheer... go on, serve yourself up a paper plate full and use your hands to eat it. Corn never tasted so good.
If none of that worked to sway you, accept the clear value of the Music Appreciation offered on each episode. Icons of stage and screen, holders of multi-solid precious metal recorded hits, innovators, dreamers, Nobel Prize Winners, well... maybe scratch that last one. But, no joke, many seriously talented peeps shared the stage on Hee Haw and did so gladly. Naw, I bet they were giddy with glee to appear there and have a laugh, forget even their troubles...
Of special note, my first celebrity crush formed while watching that show as a kid... ahhh, Mac Davis, with your curly locks and voice like satin... hmm... takes me back to simpler days, when my tastes were unspoiled by the outside influences that shift and change us... (insert record scratch...) never-mind...
Right, eh'hem, forget about the O.C., baby! Pack up your troubles 'n take them suckers to the H.H. Don't forget to leave that uppity attitude behind and learn to take yourself less seriously while you're at it. Order UP! One Big, HUGE, Super-Duper-Primo Life Lesson all wrapped up in a nice sheet of oil absorbent paper, right there, ya'll...
Live, love, and by all serious means, LAUGH with your children.
These are the most powerful things we can teach them. All the other stuff will help a bit too but without the simple basics how can you expect them to appreciate a single, solitary, good thing?
Core Topics: Music, Corn, Humility, Grace, Humor and Heart
Role Modelling: ***** out of 5
Theme Song: no way it's a NAY!
and thank all ya'll out there on the "intronets", again, for the use of the pix since not a one belongs to me.