First thing this morning, Katie popped in another disc of The Partridge Family Season One, the DVD set that I'd brought home from the library. My sister Kit babysat Katie Saturday while Will and I both had to work. I brought home the DVD set thinking it would give them something fun they could watch together. I knew it was one of Kit's favorite shows when she was ten.
I don't usually have the patience to sit in front of a TV and watch an entire episode of most shows anymore, but when I was Katie's age I was a TV junkie. I was an infant when the first season of The Partridge Family aired, so I have no memories of it. Still, it somehow absorbed into my system. When I watched a few episodes of the show with my sister and her husband, Will, and Katie Friday night when they slept over, I felt somehow nostalgic even though I was too young to remember much.
Sunday morning first thing, when Katie pushed play on the DVD player, it warmed my heart that she was still interested in it after Kit had gone home the night before.
"Oh, you still want to watch this?" I asked as she pushed play again to start the episode.
"Yeah! I like it!" she said, sitting down in her child-sized wooden rocker.
"Yeah, I do too," I said, sitting straight down on the sofa.
I watched the entire episode with Katie. I didn't even get up to make coffee, which is usually the first thing I do in the morning.
I couldn't believe it. Is that Richard Pryor? And Louis Gossett, Jr? Wow. Totally righteous, man.
When the episode was over, I got up to make coffee. While waiting for it to brew, I began thinking of all the great TV shows I loved to watch as a kid in the Seventies. It's so cool I can check out DVDs from the library now, so Katie can watch them too. I'm thirty-five years older than my kiddo, but through the magic of digital recordings and public libraries, we get to enjoy the same pop culture treats, both influenced by my groovy sister Kit.
I had a pop culture epiphany standing there in my robe, in my kitchen: the Seventies was the best decade in television history. Here's my list of The Slamminest Seventies TV Shows:
1. The Partridge Family (1970-1974): Yes, that is Richard Pryor appearing in the episode entitled "Soul Club". It first aired January 29, 1971 when I was two months old. You can buy it here. Or be like me and check it our for free at your public library. The DVD set also features the cartoon "The Partridge Family 2200 A.D." which is a total trip to watch with my seven-year-old in 2013.
2. All in the Family (1971-1979): I learned that love is more important than societal expectations by watching stellar episodes such as "Cousin Liz". Buy it here, or get it free at your local library.
3. Roots (1977) is the the best miniseries ever produced. It broadcast when I was six years old. When I saw that the star, Lavar Burton, and I share the same last name, I wondered if my ancestors owned his ancestors. I felt creepy. I later read my family history and discovered that fortunately my kin was too poor to own other people, so if I'm related to Levar Burton it's not through the bonds of slavery. You can buy the Roots DVD set here, or feel free to check it out at your local library.
4. Jesus of Nazareth (1977): When I was six years old I woke up with puffy eyes from crying so much over this righteous miniseries the night before, lying on the sofa with my head in Mom's lap. I remember looking at my puffy eyes for a long time in the mirror, thinking, aww, it's not so bad. Jesus had it way worse. I had no idea up until then. I didn't pay much attention to Jesus until this story was broadcast in my living room on TV. Church was boring and I begged to go to the nursery until I was far too old, because there I could play with other kids instead of having to sit still while the preacher droned on. But this made-for-TV version of Jesus' story made me love him. Buy it here, or borrow it from the library.
5. Sesame Street (1969-Present): I also checked out the DVD set Sesame Street Old School, Volume One (1969-1974) and Volume Two (1974-1979) from the library. What a blast from the past! It sure is fun to remember what life was like back when I was a kid. I can honestly say I would not be the person I am today without having grown up watching Sesame Street. Not only did the show teach me letters and numbers, it taught me that all different kinds of people are fascinating and that I should never clamp down on my curious mind.