I knew I was “old” (or at least, “older”) when I mentioned a favorite cartoon of mine to a younger friend and their response was, “…I’ve never heard of that show.” (In case anyone is wondering, I had mentioned Disney’s Talespin, a show that aired from 1990-1991, before my two younger siblings were born).
It’s funny to see how each generation chooses shows that helped define them, their worldview, and their interests. There are some shows my younger friends adore that aren’t my cup of tea, while sometimes when I try to show them one of my favorite shows, it falls flat because it doesn’t resonate with them like it did with me. It also depends on what offerings are available, and in which format. It’s much easier to stream content online than to go to the store or the library and pick up a few seasons’ worth of DVDs.
There are several shows that have been introduced to younger audiences with success (in part because of online streaming availability, I think), and I’m always surprised by which shows keep people’s’ interest. I think it has a lot to do with where we are politically, economically, and socially.
Lately, I’ve been seeing a resurgence of interest in one of my all-time favorite shows, M*A*S*H*, which is now streaming on Netflix. I find it intriguing, even as I look back at how I first came to be interested in the show, which ran from 1972-1983, before I was born. I have several friends who love M*A*S*H* as much, if not more, than I do, and it might be that we feel a connection to it because M*A*S*H* did a great job of talking about issues that were outside the historical aspect of the show and instead focused on what we all had in common.
Our world feels very close to the world of M*A*S*H* right at the moment. We’re still dealing with a lot of the same issues. We go through some of the same crises that Hawkeye, B.J., Radar, and Klinger deal with, and even though the era of M*A*S*H* doesn’t always match up with ours, there’s enough commonality to feel a companionship to the 4077th. I’ve been watching M*A*S*H* quite a lot lately, partially because I feel it best describes how I feel about the world right now.
There are people I love, like Hawkeye and B.J., Klinger and Radar, and there are people I don’t get along with, and then there’s the authority figures who treat us like we’re inhuman, pushing us into dangerous situations, ignoring our humanity for their profit margins and power grabs, all while we slave away to save just one more life, even if it’s our own.
I’ve kept watching M*A*S*H*, more so than any other older show, because it has the timeless quality about telling stories about humanity, not a specific time or place (even though the stories occur in a specific time or place).
This is how shows endure. They focus on the human predicament, they struggle with the ever-unanswered questions of life, and they reflect a bit of ourselves back to us so that we can see we aren’t alone.
What shows have stayed with you? What new shows are you drawn to? Which shows from your childhood or young adulthood do you wish were streaming online now?