Sunday, 7 November 2010

The Best Show In The World!

haven't written in ages and i've not experienced anything super exciting lately so i've decided i'll talk about the past for todays entry.

being nostalgic is something not only old folks and fishwives tend to do, i've noticed when i'm home for holidays my mates and me tend to delve into the past and remember better times, carefree times, generally good times. this is generally accompanied by some merry drinking but i've got to get up early tomorrow so i think i'll leave that bit out for tonight :)

[spoiler- here comes the sad bit]

since my daddy's illness i've taken to clinging to all the things he loves to do, everything from watching his favourite movies, listening to his music and finding the simple joy in ironing or doing the laundry. it's silly but it makes me appreciate the smaller things in life and going by his motto of 'give everything - expect nothing'. it makes me feel closer to him and simultaneously allows me to understand choices he made in the past, that i'd judged him too quickly for. and it has the added benefit of making him believe that we share more character traits than we used to.
so sad and sentimental stuff aside, the things my dad enjoys doing include:

-sitting in a comfy deck chair on the garden terrace after some gardening
-ironing a bunch of clothes while listening to his record collection
-sitting and listening to his two little girls chatter about uni life and stuff
-watching a bunch of old westerns and movies from his 'era'

Now westerns and classics like 'The Graduate' are amazing movies that can keep you entertained for hours, but now and again you need something you can really relate to and enjoy on a day-to-day base. This is where TV shows come in. As kids our dad used to record a german kids music show and The Cosby show for us on VHS tapes (we have racks of them in the basement) but since our VHS player stopped working, we've not been able to watch those tapes for 4 years now (my dad was waiting for a combined DVD-VHS-recorder gadget to come out).

The thing is, when you move away from home, everytime you see something that reminds you of home makes you miss it more and think of the good times you had. My sister and I had an amazing childhood filled with great memories and lots of stories of adventures. Our folks were great about everything and really knew how to handle kids waaay before they had their own (they used to be teachers) so they knew that the normal methods of parenting needed to be expanded and adapted to how quickly children were developing in the 90s (and still are now!)
So, they turned to, and a lot of you may argue against this, TV. They realised we'd be spending a fair amount of time in front of it so they decided to make sure we were watching sensible stuff that taught morals and good manners and generally compassion and tolerance. Luckily, the universe experienced one of those miraculous moments of good timing that only occurs a couple of times in ones life as German TV bought the rights to air The Cosby Show.

Now I've heard a lot of criticism about this show lately, saying it gives a flawed image of what afro-american families were and are experiencing in America. I agree, looking back at that period I'm sure things were everything but the peachy-Cosby state of things. We still hear stories of inequality and discrimination in Europe where we're not sure whether to believe them or not.
However, I think the Cosby Show circulated some good ideas about parenting, social behaviour, tolerance and morals. Rewatching almost the entire show (we bought up 6 seasons this summer!) I realised there were a number of episodes that would have helped out a couple of my friends, not back in the day as kids but later on as young adults. There were numerous episodes about self-respect, in fact i think this was a very central theme through most of the show, which would have been a useful lesson for some of my mates who'd had some rough patches. Nothing as extreme as the episode where Vanessa and her friends get Kara's brother's car stolen and lose their concert tickets to some phony security guy. I just love Claire's rant/speech at Vanessa afterwards though, I remember getting a few of those as a kid from my mother.

Speaking of Claire, that lady was strong and fierce and loving and caring, patient and smart and I only hope that I turn out half as amazing as her. I know its just a show, but she is definitely a role model to look up to, I mean she raised 5 kids, with her full-time job as a lawyer and her husband being a doctor. And her kids weren't all angels that sat up in their play clothes and never got crumbs on the table cloth either! And Phylicia Rashad is beautiful! everytime i see posters of her from all the West End shows she's doing I need to stop and stare at them (too bad i see most of them when i'm on the escalator on the underground in london).

And Bill Cosby is just insanely funny! Cliff can keep my family in fits of giggles (hysterical giggles) even now and his humorous way of tackling issues in the family just make you smile. I especially love how he's so persistent in trying to figure out what secrets his family are keeping from him.
Years of watching the show didn't only have an effect on my sisters and my upbringing. Looking back at how our parents acted around us, I realise that our father adopted a lot of Cliff's behaviour (especially his dancing!) and my mother definitely has had some Claire-moments!

But another point that makes this show so exceptional, is the music that the shows audience is exposed to. My dad's always listened to Jazz and Blues, but I think this show took it to a new level and got me interested in the genre later on. There have been numerous guest appearances by big names such as BB King, Lena Horne, Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Sammy Davis Jr and the amazing Stevie Wonder. I think one of my favourite moments in the show is the episode when Lena Horne sings 'I'm glad there is you' for Cliff's birthday. When Jamie Cullum covered it on 'Catching Tales' 20 years later, I knew i'd heard the song somewhere before.

Apart from the terrible fashion (all except Claire, and Vanessa at times) this show is definitely up there among the best and probably my favourite as I connect so many great memories from my childhood and images of my parents with it.

So I leave you with three of Rudi's greatest moments, in my opinion of course, and hope you've enjoyed this show as much as i have.

sit there till you eat them

it aint easy being green

the locker room


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