Hey, this job as a writer requires quite a lot of writing! It makes it difficult to feel motivated to update my blog, and to finish the article I need to write for Maven magazine. Nonetheless, I was thinking the other day about weird moments or characters on TV that freaked me out at an early age. These would be all from shows I saw between the ages of 3-6. I hope this post will never be used by some undergrad under duress searching for an argument against kids watching TV for a rhetorical paper due the next morning at a.m.
1. Cookie Monster. I was always scared of the Cookie Monster, in part because he was so out of control (my cousin Charlie was terrified of the Count. You could make him cry by just saying, "V-one, Two, Tree!"). I remember a dream I had when I was really little where the Cookie Monster actually gobbled me up. I remember being swallowed down his black throat. It didn't hurt, and was, in fact, mildly pleasant. Still, I didn't like his googly eyes and his crazy obsession. Even at an early age, I was geared more toward a Type A personality.
2. Lady Elaine. Remember her, from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood? What genius at PBS decided that a haggard looking old lady puppet with a turned down nose and a scratchy voice would be a fun puppet for kids to see? And did she or did she not have real people hands? That didn't make any sense either. Lady Elaine was my first brush with lesbians.
3. That Episode of All in the Family Where Edith Almost Gets Raped. I'm not kidding. They had a whole show (without a laugh track, even spookier) where Edith is being pursued by a captor in her house, fleeing from closet to bedroom with her hands and apron fluttering. I couldn't understand why the show wasn't following the rules of sit-com. You weren't supposed to see Edith being held at knifepoint. That wasn't funny. I guess they were trying to make a point about...Being terrorized? It scared me too that a rapist could go after someone older like that--I thought only young girls were at risk. After that show, I worried for my grandma.
4. That Episode of Brady Bunch Where Bobby Dreams His Whole Family is Shot by Jesse James. Again, what? In this show, Bobby has been misguided in his hero worship of Jesse James. As punishment from the universe, he has a nightmare set in the Old West. At first, it's fun and interesting to see Marsha and everybody in prairie dresses and old-timie gear, that is, until Jesse James comes into the bank and shoots everyone dead. Except for Bobby. It wasn't a protest against gun control; but more of a lesson about how you shouldn't immortalize gun fighters. As if there were a rampant outbreak of kids rediscovering what's "fun" about Hitler and Charles Manson.
5. That Episode of The Waltons Where Mary Ellen Has a Miscarriage. It wasn't the miscarriage part that was traumatizing, it was that she kept seeing these dead birds everywhere before it happened and someone in town warned her that dead birds were a sign of bad luck to come. To this day, if I see a dead bird, I expect for something to come crashing out of the sky, or for my car to explode, or for another tragedy to occur within the next two days.
I'm sure there are others. There certainly must be at least one episode from LHOTP that harmed me, but I can't think of any. Or maybe it's just that bad stuff always happened on that show (blizzards, bullies, dogs dying, Pa being stuck in a forest) and so it wasn't surprising. But at least in the three particular shows I mentioned, I only saw them once and they're still rambling around in my brain today.