The Most Influential TV Show of Your Life
In class tonight, the question was raised: what TV show most shaped you as a child? I had to think for a moment. Others were saying The Addams Family, My So-Called Life, Sabado Gigante, Leave it to Beaver...Mine was Little House on the Prairie. I started reading books when I was about seven or so and I remember that my grandma would give me a Little House book every birthday. So, I was reading the books and watching the TV show at the same time, a double whammy of calico. I loved Laura Ingalls so much because she was dorky and sweet and had great braids. My hair was boy short, and so I would sometimes walk around with red tights placed on top of my head, believing that I was fooling others into thinking they were my real hair. People probably thought, Oh, that poor little girl with leukemia! I loved her freckles and wished for crooked teeth like hers (that wish came true. Among all that I made, why was that the one that was answered?). I felt for Laura because of her dorkiness and because she wasn't as beautiful as her sister Mary with the long golden hair and light blue eyes. I was secretly thrilled when Mary went blind (I believe this happened in the later books...Not in The Long Winter...can't remember what came after that). I supposed I identified with this book so much because they lived in the Midwest (Minnesota?) and I was born in the Midwest, in the prairie, but we left and that was the biggest tragedy of my life. The show was mostly about how hard it was on the prairie, and, more specifically, how life was hard for Laura because she didn't quite fit in and she was too sensitive. I also very much loved her Pa, probably because I didn't have a Pa like that, no Michael Landon's with his curly hair and perpetual hat to tell Laura how to be a better person. I wished so much that I could own a butter churn and wear a petticoat and boots with buttons and have a friendly dog named Jack. We had a dog on the farm that I loved, Oscar, a German Shepherd. I have this really vivid memory of walking with Oscar into the field and crying because I knew that he would die. It wasn't that I was afraid he would die that day, but just the simple fact that he wouldn't be with me forever was crippling. I also understood that dogs didn't live as long as people. I have a distinct memory of sobbing by him while he lolled about in the dust by the garage. Missing him while he was still alive. We left soon after. I wasn't there when he got hit by a car. All farm dogs die this way. But...can I really make the argument that watching the show and reading the books really formed my vision of what life should be like? I don't think so. I don't yearn for a traditional household where the dad goes out and bails hay and the mom stays home and breastfeeds while shucking corn. On the other hand, I suppose I did base my idea on what family is on that show, probably b/c my three person family life was so different. It at least taught me to recognize that what I was experiencing growing up wasn't normal. Or, that it could be better. I should have a Pa who called me Half Pint instead of Bertha. I should feel safe and believe that someone would be looking out for the dog. I should have a long-sleeved dress made out of wool to wear to school each day along with a bonnet (my mom did make me bonnets and dresses with petticoats. She was the best at this). I also remember asking my grandma what it was like to come to Nebraska in a covered wagon and her saying, Well, I'm not that old.