My daughters, Maddo and Little Sis, are four and two years old, respectively. And they will never want for lack of TV entertainment.
Oh, I can remember back in the day when I was a kid in the late 70s and early 80s and I think we had six channels, tops, to choose from. We had a TV antenna, of course, and sometimes supplemented its reception with a pair of laughable rabbit ears that we would twist, swing, wrap aluminum foil around and nearly impale ourselves on until one of them snapped and dad yelled at us to get the hell away from the 19-inch Sony Trinitron, which by then showed us a stunning picture of nothing but static.
“Well,” dad would say. “Looks like a snowstorm in Minnesota, again!”
Yes, our TV-viewing options were limited back then. Now? It’s cliched to talk about how many channels there are and how many different niches they serve. I mean, I know that of the approximately eleventy bazillion channels we get at my house, there are at least tenty bazillion that I have never looked at even once.
But there is one thing we do watch without fail. Technically, it isn’t a channel, but if there were ratings for it, it would be No. 1 with a bullet in our home
And that would be…Netflix.
At my prior blog, I wrote about Netflix, and how in particular my older daughter, Maddo, came to quickly love and adore the 94 episodes of “Dora The Explorer” and the 66 episodes more of “Go Diego Go!” starring Dora’s animated cousin Diego, that are available for instant watching from Netflix. Our TV, iPads, iPhones and laptops have become veritable highways of Dora and Diego in our house.
And gone are the days when a show was over, it was over, and my brother and I had to wait an excruciating 24 hours [or even a whole week] until “Star Blazers” or whatever it was we were watching would come on again. My kids have learned that just because an episode of, say “Strawberry Shortcake” has ended, that doesn’t mean there isn’t another one loaded up in the Netflix chamber. In spite of this, I have tried to wrest control of the TV away from Maddo and Little Sis, only to be defeated my their insane kid logic:
Me [Grabbing the remote]: Well, time to see how the Mariners are doing!
Maddo: NO, DADDYYYYYY! “Strawberry Shortcake” is on again!
Little Sis: SHORE-CAKEEE! [Keep in mind, she’s just 2].
[Volume goes up as the girls begin incessant begging and pleading.]
Me [Looking at TV to see a list of at least ten more “Strawberry Shortcake” episodes. Then giving up.]: Fine. Whatever.
And then we watch another “Strawberry Shortcake”. And then it’s “Bo On The Go”. And then “My Little Pony”. You get the idea.
And since you end up watching so much of your kids’ programs, and since the Netflix account is in your name, what happens is that YOU end up getting a Top Ten list of suggestions for shows that [for the most part] you don’t willingly watch and only do so under high duress and the constant pleading and whining of your offspring. You might prefer something like the ESPN 30 For 30 documentary, “You Don’t Know Bo” [And as a football fanatic who distinctly remembers Bo Jackson barreling over The Boz on Monday Night Football, I prefer this film over even most of the videos I have of my kids], but the algorithms at Big Netflix will determine that what you really want to watch is a batch of “Caillou” videos.
And this can drive you insane.
Because of all this kid-TV watching, I decided to take a look at a recent list of what Netflix deems to be the Top Ten for me. The results were both shocking and surprising.
No. 1 Mad Men
Well this, indeed, caught me off guard. I have seen every episode of “Mad Men”, but haven’t watched more than five minutes of any of the show’s scenes at any one time on Netflix. And there’s no point in denying it: Every guy who has watched this show has wanted to be Don Draper, and you don’t need me to tell you why. Maybe Netflix does know me better than even I do?
Neither my daughters, nor I, have ever watched a second of this show on Netflix or anyplace else. I do remember a bit about this because I had a crush on a chick in grad. school who thought W&G were the greatest comic pairing since Laurel and Hardy. I think she ended up marrying a goddamn puppeteer.
Chuck is an animated dump truck who has “adventures” with his friends. Being that Chuck is a dump truck, I have to assume his friends are two guys who hang off his back end and throw trash cans for $30 an hour.
No. 4: Meet Pingu
Pingu is a penguin who, unfortunately, survived Morgan Freeman narrating him through the Antarctic winter in that documentary a few years back.
No. 5: Word Girl
The description for the first episode in this series goes as follows: “WG and Tobey get into a battle of words on the game show “Crash or Pie”/The butcher hosts free barbecues to help him carry out his criminal plans.” Pies, barbecues and crashes of some sort? If Zooey Deschanel were playing Word Girl, this show might just be perfect.
No. 6: The Wheels On The Bus
Do we need exact fare and get to sit next to some smelly, animated hobo? Let me guess…The wheels on the bus go ‘round and ‘round, right?
Please tell me this is based on Jack Klugman’s Oscar Madison character from “The Odd Couple”.
I never really got into Woody Woodpecker as a kid and I really don’t know how he fits into the crowded market for kids’ TV eyeballs today. He was always the poor man’s Bugs Bunny, to me. Now, if we brought back Bugs…
No. 9: Weeds
I know three things about this show. A) Without a doubt, Mary-Louise Parker is the hottest suburban pot-selling mom on TV, B) Randy Newman hammered years of royalty checks for his song being used in the opening credits, and C) Showtime just ended this thing after about 75 seasons.
No. 10: Breaking Bad
Scummy Drug Dealer: Who the hell are you?
[Walter White throws bag of blue meth at Drug Dealer’s feet. Drug Dealer looks scared]
Walter White: Say my name.
Scummy Drug Dealer: You’re Heisenberg.
Walter White: You’re Goddamn right.
The final eight episodes premiere this summer. The kids can have Netflix on the iPad, but the TV’s mine when Walter starts cooking again.