Archives For life lessons

TV Made Me: It’s not the same anymore…

“Television is bad for you. It makes you dumb.” These are the things we hear quite often these days. In my opinion television may have saved my life and for better or worse, I can proudly say it made me who I am.

Unfortunately, growing up alone in a house of 6 is something you may understand.  There was love in the house, but in my family’s own special way. The bills always got paid and there was always food on the table and as we got older the birthday and Christmas gifts got better.

I had friends in the neighborhood and in school, and though I wasn’t one of the popular kids, I was definitely in the “it” circle. As far back as I can remember I was never affected by what people thought of me and I was always the comic that could lighten up any mood. I’d  also give the shirt off my back if needed and I say these things in the most humble way possible. I wish I could say my parents and siblings had something to do with any of that, and maybe they did, but it might have been indirectly, like doing the opposite of what my environment was doing.


As I reflect on my life I can clearly recall the first moment when I can say TV had altered my life.  As the assistant principal waited for me to explain my actions -I simply answered . . .

“I don’t recall.” She then asked, “do you know what that means?”

I said, “what”?

“The word recall,” she said.

I said, “yes, I mean, like…, to remember?.”

She asked where I had learned such a big word.

“Isn’t recall smaller than remember?” I asked.

“Well, yes but a word like that isn’t typically used by a second grader” she said.

I guess she expected to hear that my teacher, my parents or even my siblings may have taught me such a word and for some reason I didn’t want to admit I had picked it up from watching Mr. Belvedere. I mean you could only be taught from a teacher or by someone sitting you down and teaching you what words mean, right? What if my context clues skills were not as accurate as I thought. Needless to say I just shied away.


Growing up there were many family sitcoms that had positive messages and more importantly they showed me love and compassion for others that my environment seemed to dismiss. Programs like Mr Belvedere, Growing Pains, Diff’rent Strokes, The Facts of Life, Family Ties, The Cosby Show, Little House on the Prairie and of course Good Times all found a special place in my heart and helped me view the world in a different way. I found myself engulfed in the antics and complications of a scripted life, and was always satisfied with the way everything came together at the end of every episode.

This may sound ridiculous but some of the valuable lessons that I adapted into my life came from watching TV such as:  honesty is always the best route because at the end of every episode the truth always comes out, to take responsibility for your actions, and be ready to pay the price because every action has a reaction.  I also learned to always apologize to someone if you have hurt them because at the end of the day we are all in this together, as well as defending yourself in a tactical manner because life is not linear and you never know what life is going to throw at you after each commercial break.


The most evident thing that I have kept in my life is the one liner approach to life… (thanks Cheers and Night Court) I sometimes surprise myself with my quick wit and one liners and it sometimes feels like I’m on a show… I’m sure you know what I mean. We all have that moment when that perfect joke lands. (Except for me it’s all the time, yeah I’m funnier than you.) This may not all be tied directly to TV and I’m sure my environment gave me no choice but to look at the brighter side of things. What I can give credit to TV for is teaching me the timing to a joke and the ability to take the blunt end of a joke for the sake of a good time.

There are so many things and so many shows that are not on this list that were and are fantastic that can be very useful. I know they should be listed on here, like Herman’s Head… I know you don’t know what I’m talking about so take a break and google it. Herman’s Head was awesome and ahead of it’s time, the idea and concept was used for the animated movie Inside Out.


I understand TV is what you make of it but unfortunately this generation and my kid’s generation will not have the privilege to know what I am talking about. How there were more positive messages on every channel and the “bad” shows were limited. Television these days is focused on the wrong things and is being used to project the wrong messages. (Yeah I know I sound old but your mom likes it…) I understand that TV works off ratings and if the junk shows are what people are watching then that’s what’s going to be on the majority of the menu.


I say all this to say, thank you 80s and early 90s TV sitcoms for making me the person I am today. You taught me many lessons while my brothers were too busy with their lives and while dad and mom worked so hard to keep the little we had. Thank you for not being full of crap, and for allowing me to escape for a brief moment and walk out the other side a “wiser” kid. Yes, thank you for Alf and Pee-Wees Playhouse as well, I took the good with the bad you dished out…. I was able to see what kind of family I’d like to have when I got older. I was able to envision what kind of career and environment I’d like my children to grow up in. Don’t get me wrong I still have many flaws which my environment and TV are not the blame for. If you’d like a list, I’m sure my wife would be glad to forward to you.


I encourage you today to reflect on that one source that you may have over looked and say thank you. It may have been tv, comic books, that one teacher, the weird uncle or that aunt that always seemed to understand you and make you feel like everything was ok with that warm smile. Take those positive values and share them with the world.

So once again, TV, Thank You and know that I will share all the positive things you have taught me with my family and friends. As in all great sitcom . . . fashion, hugs and fade scene – roll credits.

Shout out to:

Mr Belvedere, Growing Pains, Full House, Who’s the Boss?, Married… With Children, Mork & Mindy, Happy Days, Diff’rent Strokes, Little House on the Prairie, The Facts of Life, Family Ties, Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, The Jeffersons, Taxi, MAS*H ,The Cosby Show, Cheers ,Herman’s Head, Boy Meets world, Saved by the bell, Fresh prince of bel-aire, Sledge Hammer!, Knight Rider, Sledge Hammer!, Three’s Company, ALF, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Tracy Ullman Show, Miami Vice, Fraggle Rock, The Love Boat, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, MacGyver, The Dukes of Hazzard, The A-Team, Quantam Leap, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, The Wonder Years, Magnum, P.I., Night Court, At the Movies, Martin, In living color and many many more ….. especially all the cartoons.

– Steve Martinez:  Guest Blogger