Saturday, January 17, 2009

It's a Family Affair

Rosanne’s post about “Aunt Jenny…Ten Year’s Younger”, got me thinking about television shows I enjoyed when I was young. I had a great conversation with her as we reminisced about television lore. One of my favorites was “Family Affair”. Monday nights were sacred, as I would make sure to be home for every episode. I longed to live in a penthouse apartment on Fifth Avenue with Uncle Bill and Mr. French. The closest I ever came to any semblance of this type of life is that my nephews call me Aunt Sissie (not Cissy, like the show—but close).

Consequently, I ordered all 5 disc of the first season of “Family Affair” from Netflix. I have been watching each episode with a nostalgic eye and expected to persuade the boys to watch it with me again, for posterity---most likely won’t happen, but I will give it a shot.

I made several observations while watching disc one that were NEVER apart of my childhood memories of “Family Affair”, perhaps age and prudence has more to do with my insights than anything else. In the very first episode, Uncle Bill returns from a business trip abroad. Mr. French, being his “gentleman’s gentleman”, begins reviewing Bill’s itinerary---while Uncle Bill is taking a bath (yes, an odd scene today). Of course Uncle Bill smokes on the terrace—a HUGE “no-no”, and in another scene, Buffy, is being dried off after a bath—totally naked. Even at 6 years old, you don’t see that on television today. It made me realize that we have lost societal innocence – for lack of a better term. A case could be made for this being a good thing as well as a sad state of affairs.

The most prevalent memory, which has tugged at my heartstrings, is that of Mrs. Beasley. One of my prized possessions as a child was my Mrs. Beasley Doll. If you remember, Buffy NEVER went ANYWHERE without Mrs. Beasley. They were constant companions. When I viewed Buffy carrying her beloved doll around the penthouse, it was like connecting with a long-lost friend. I am not sure what happened to my Mrs. Beasley, but I would love to have her today--“My bestest and closest friend,” as Buffy would say.

It is interesting how pop-culture defines our memories. We recall songs, television programs or movies that mark our most treasured life experiences. How about today? What will mark the life experiences of our children? The Family Guy? The Simpsons? Desperate Housewives? Hmmm….


Alicia said...

or worse yet, Barney!

Janine said...

Even worse ..... every - single - reality - show.

My sister had a Mrs. Beasley. And I am SO stoked that they're on DVD!!! Thanks for the info!

Anonymous said...

I watched that show as a kid. Not as regularly or with as much reverence as you though. Probably because I only ever saw it when visiting my aunt and uncle in Toronto. They had cable - a wondrous array of television channels - while we had only one or two.

Your observations about standards - then and now - are pretty accurate. Interesting how things evolve and change, eh?

As far as today's programming. I think the total lack of quality, in addition to the lack of time on my part, is one of the main reasons I no longer watch television.

My twenty-somethings are a different story. Any conversation can devolve into banter about popular culture stuff - TV, movies, music - very easily as soon as someone makes a passing mention of it, even inadvertently. It's a little irritating, annoying and disappointing.

I received season 2 of "The X-files" on DVD a while back. We've watched some of it and I'm struck by the difference in perspective. When the show was new I never missed an episode on TV. It was great stuff. Re-watching those early episodes now, one can easily discern the poor script, dialog and the less than stellar acting.

I guess I find it to be truly a case of "You can't go home again."

Anonymous said...

I feel there is aome quality tv out there, even now. But you just have to look for it. There's a lot of junk, but many interesting, educational and entertaining shows out there still. Just the Discovery Channel alone opens up a world of information!

Anonymous said...

When I was little, I wanted Brian Keith for my dad. A combination of Family Affair and The Parent Trap led me to believe he was the perfect father. In reality he struggled with depression and I believe he killed himself in later years.

I didn't have a Mrs. Beasley but I did have a rag doll who was my constant companion (I still have her), so I related very much to Buffy.

Anonymous said...

Omigosh, you've rekindled a memory! I used to watch Family Affair all the time, and loved it. But I hadn't thought about it for ages. Thanks for a sweet memory.

I'm guessing my son will remember The Simpsons, or maybe X-Files in later years.

P.S. Welcome to 50-Something Moms! I enjoyed your post.

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