I thought it was pretty cool when I got one of those toy boombox/microphone dohickies when I was a kid. I’d pop in my cassette tape and hear my voice echo through the house singing along to great jams like Step By Step, Thriller, and Baby Beluga. And damn it I know I wasn’t alone. (Oh, hey Tanner family!) I was blessed to have parents with the means to provide me with cool toys and such, but you can bet that if that boombox came with the $199 price tag the iPod Touch has my parents would have one reaction to my request: Hell. No.
I didn’t sit down to write about the kindergarten kids with iPods and cell phones. We talk a lot about how easy kids have it these days but I think these kids are missing out on something even greater in this new streamlined world that we live in: television theme songs.
Oh, I said it.
Quick - think of your favorite shows growing up. Personally, I enjoyed watching 20/20 and the Nick at Nite lineup just as much as Full House and the TGIF lineup, which means I can still at the very least hum along to the tunes that introduced TV shows from the 60s (Bewitched - I even had lyrics based on the cartoon credits) and 70s (Welcome Back, Kotter). Then there was the aforementioned Full House, Roseanne, and I think we’d be remiss to not include Friends, Party of Five, or 90210.
Speaking of the 90210 theme - do you know the value of seeing Kelly Taylor purse her lips in the opening sequence each week for a young girl? Bitch taught me to seduce. And the quick jab Brandon gives timed perfectly with the music? I dare you to find a child or teen of the 90s who couldn’t do that in their sleep.
Where did those go? I can think of two theme songs today: Craig Ferguson and…wait, I just had it…Two and a Half Men (which I maintain is not a show worth its ratings pre or post-Sheen). Even Glee, a show about teenagers singing for goodness sake, doesn’t have an opening theme song.
So, if you’re on the other end of the nerdy time-waster spectrum from me, you’re probably wondering how this lack of television theme songs negatively affects today’s kids. Allow me to explain:
At the onset of college life, I didn’t go to a nearby state school like most of my high school classmates did. When my then-boyfriend went to Michigan State, he shared a room with someone he’d known since he was twelve and shared most of his first collegiate experiences with the same kids he’d shared his first high school experiences. (Which is not to say this was a poor decision, I’m just contrasting is all.)
In my first class, where we were immersed in the city for a week before school started, I didn’t know anyone. The first day we sat in a loose huddle on the gym bleachers among hundreds of other 18-year-olds praying to any number of gods that they didn’t embarrass themselves too badly. We were nervous and jittery and silent. In addition to the girl from Podunk, Michigan via Beijing that you know and love, there were students from the hood (with a capital H), girls flashing credit cards with North Shore addresses, and guys fresh off their parents’ farm. By the end of the week many of us had become great friends. And I can pinpoint for you the moment we all turned from strangers to a community - sitting on the back of the Archer bus, singing in unison.
In West Philadelphia born and raised / On the playground where I spent most of my days / Chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool / And all shootin’ some b-ball outside of the school / When a couple of guys, they were up to no good / Started making trouble in my neighborhood / I got in one little fight and my mom got scared / And said ‘You’re movin’ with your auntie and uncle in Bel Air’
And thus, bonds were formed. I remained close friends with a few of those classmates throughout my undergraduate years, and still count Ms. Claire as one of my best friends and champions. If you think that television theme songs had nothing to do with that, then you’re crazy.