By Paul Iiams
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday Mar. 4, 2002
It seems as though when you have one important decision to make, more and more problems invariably stack on top of it, making the weight feel overwhelming.
I know this from personal experience. The decisions currently on my plate seem insurmountable. Just as I am close to finalizing one aspect in my life, a whole new set of conflicts arises. Deciding what direction my life will take can be a daunting task.
Recently, I was in the middle of a stress-induced fit when I decided to turn on the television. Television has been there for me in times of need as a friend and as an avenue to release frustrations, so I thought it could work as a counselor too. As the screen began to glow, my ears were filled with the familiar opening theme to "The Dick Van Dyke Show."
I sat down, homework and deadlines forgotten, and became enthralled with the lives of Rob and Laura Petrie. As I watched, I thought to myself that that was the life. This, and other mitigating circumstances, led me to an epiphany:
Life would be so much better if it were a 1950s situation comedy.
Now I didn't just come to this decision on a whim. My research was exhaustive, literally and figuratively. Show after show depict good, old-fashioned family values, wholesomeness and a simpler way of life with no worries, all wrapped up in a tidy 30-minute box.
Some may say the past should stay in the past, but I disagree. Take a close look at society today. I can almost guarantee that in the first three pages of today's Wildcat there will be at least one story about someone dying a horrific death or some company being sued for screwing its employees out of millions of dollars. Situations such as these would never happen in my TV world.
Lucy and Ricky never once had to deal with terrorism or the threat of it. Their biggest problems were whether Lucy could sneak onto Ricky's show and become a star. The Ricardos never locked their door, and they lived in New York. I live on the north side and I lock my door when I take out the garbage!
The local news is full of tales of crime and criminals. As a child, when the TV news broadcasted stories about kidnappers and child molesters on the loose, it gave me nightmares for days. It is a much easier night's sleep when, like in the lovely town of Mayberry, your biggest criminal lets himself into jail every night.
Who wouldn't want to live in a town like New Rochelle, NY? The neighbors get together for parties that involve singing, comedy and, strangely enough, conversation. When was the last time you talked to your neighbors, any of them? I lived in an apartment for a year and the only person I ever talked to was the woman downstairs who yelled at me for walking too loud. As a culture, we are becoming less and less friendly to each other. Maybe if more people talked to each other, they would look out for each other too, reducing the chance of being victimized.
What appeals to me the most about the world of '50s television is the family structure. There was no such thing as a latchkey kid, because one parent was always at home. We always knew that little Richie Petrie would be OK because Laura would be there for him if he needed anything.
Now this may sound unrealistic, sexist even, but hear me out. It really doesn't matter to me which parent is home for the child, as long as one of them is. I was a latchkey kid for much of my childhood, and I believe it may have given me a warped sense of reality (hence the dependency on television).
I suppose the moral of the story is that simple equals better. Why overcomplicate life any further than you have to? We all should take a cue from those black-and-white television shows that are on during the middle of the day. Life can be good without excess baggage weighing you down.
I have to go now, the commercial break is over, and I want to see if Lucy will make it out of the freezer.