Hannah Montana, The Suite life of Zack and Cody, That’s So Raven. Faint familiarity? Never heard of them? Then you’re probably not 16 and under. These are the shows that have replaced Saved By The Bell, Step By Step, and Family Matters – the kids and teens shows of the 80’s and 90’s. I took it upon myself to sit down this Saturday morning and watch all of the present kids shows on ABC and Disney and Saturday morning play. I’d seen a couple before and I just wondered what was still popular, what the next generation is growing up on. Sadly, not much.
I think it all started to change once The Cosby Show went the way of the Dinosaur, once TGIF suddenly disappeared, once Hilary Duff and Lindsay Lohan sunk their teeth into show business. It’s the Hilary Duff generation. A generation where it’s more important to be a superstar and get on stage instead of being good in school and listening to your parents. The shows aren’t horrible, I mean That’s So Raven is about as funny to kids today, I imagine, as Saved By The Bell was to a child of the 80’s. The kids laugh and they have a lot of family values, albeit very transparent, movie stars, and fake family values, but family values nonetheless. The main issue that I have with children watching these programs today is that they don’t have real life problems in their lives like the TV shows of old. The shows of today are simply, too safe.
Remember the phrase “a very specialï¿½” whatever it was? You could have a very special Family Ties, or a very special Blossom, or a very special Full House. But from what I’ve seen, the shows that are on today are more about the kids being funny, acting silly,, singing and dancing, and crazy crazy slapstick comedy. Almost all the shows that are on now have to do with the children singing and dancing. And when they have their resolutions, itï¿½ï¿½”šï¿½ï¿½”žï¿½s all very funny and happy. It’s not showing what the real world could be like.
Hannah Montana is almost certainly never going to have a “Jessie is on pain medication” episode. Zack and Cody won’t have a car accident like on step by step. Raven won’t be participating in sexual relations like Zoe on Blossom. I think back to Cory on Boy Meets World where almost all the episodes ended very bittersweetly. Because it was a boy meeting the real World.
There’s no drinking problems, no homeless people, no real world attitude mixed in with the comedy in these recent shows. The comedy all has to do with whatever is going on with the premise of the show all the time. If Hannah is a singer, the show is always going to be about Hannah singing. Now some of us back in the day used to complain about all of the “very special” episodes of shows we loved because they were full of sap and usually tried to pull in ratings because of the drama. But the great thing about those shows is that they were about something. It wasn’t just movie stars and nonsense. And to tell the truth, now that we donï¿½ï¿½”šï¿½ï¿½”žï¿½t have those kinds of shows, it’s like there’s a whole missing in Tvland.
Now, there has been a lack of good programming on television for a while and with the advent of reality TV shows, the replacement of comedies with hard drams and CSI’s, and the newest throwback to game show fever, sitcoms have almost been lost, in primetime anyway. But for kids’ shows, that’s all they have, sitcoms. No drama, no reality TV, hardly any game shows on Saturday morning, except a rare few. And I think that’s a disservice to children’s ability to cope with the real world. Not the lack of game shows or CSI’s, bu the lack of drama and conviction of that older shows from the 80’s and 90’s gave teens and children. Television and the arts in general has been dumbed down over the years for children due to the FCC, angry mothers and the country’s demand for PC talk. It’s unfortunate that the children have to suffer with fluff that doesn’t teach them anything about how it is to be a real person. Only shows that teach them how to be a rockstar before they get out of high school.
The two episodes I remember the most of Saved By The Bell are the ones where Jessie was on drugs and Zack drove a car illegally and crashed it. Those episodes taught me to this day to be careful of drugs and scared me out of driving for years. Now Zack and Cody cute as buttons but I don’t see them teaching my children anything but how to get away with murder and that doing homework is almost non-existent to them. Mind you, it’s a good show. But for substance and real world attitudes, I prefer the cheesy, sappy, informative Saved by the Bell anyday.