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Sunday is for Sunday Night Soaps… and Smiling.

September 6, 2009

Seven years ago my mother and I were quickly becoming addicted to what my father referred to as our “Sunday Night Soap:” American Dreams.  She’d make dinner, and sometimes I’d help, but no matter what, the TV was tuned into NBC at 7:00 on Sunday night, every week for two years until I left for college.  Was there football on?  Well, I guess the boys were eating dinner in the basement because mom and I had to get our fix of the Pryor family, and of course, of Dick Clark and American Bandstand.

I wasn’t hating on the new and improved Joseph Lawrence, either.

The show was canceled after just three seasons, which seemed, to me, the utmost crime against humanity, although I felt guilty and nearly entirely responsible for its demise, since, in that third season, I had learned what it meant to be a college freshman and rarely reminded myself that I knew how to work a television.

Finding out I’d no longer even have the option of settling in on a Sunday night with a plate of roast beef and mashed potatoes to hang out with Meg and JJ was almost as traumatic as that time I ran down the stairs just as the clock struck four after hurriedly fingering my way through my piano practicing to see the new Ghostwriter mystery begin only to find some talking dog in a costume had taken its place.  My poor dad had to deal with his distraught daughter in tears for the next hour.  He must have thought I was nuts.

The truth is, I’m not a big TV girl, but you put me together with the right show and I become fiercely loyal and very totally In Love.  When I was ten, it was Ghostwriter.  When I was sixteen it was American Dreams.

So then this thing called TV on DVD started sweeping the nation and I don’t remember when or how I came up with the extra money, but one day I saw it there, sitting atop a scratched metal shelf, gleaming like a beacon of light through the drab discountland we like to call Walmart, and I couldn’t help myself.  I picked it up and marched straight up to the cash registers and soon enough it was mine.  The first season of American Dreams on DVD.

And I took it and I watched it.  And it was like being home.

It’s funny– I don’t watch it a whole lot (not the way I make use of my Gilmore Girls DVDs, not even kind of) because seasons two and three were never released (Um, Universal? HELLO?  PLEEEEASE?) and season one ends on the cliffhanger of all cliffhangers and that’s just irritating– but whenever I do find a couch and a DVD player and the idea that some good old 1960s pop culture seems like a good time, I’m never disappointed.

Did you ever see the show?  Do you know all of the archive footage from the news, Presidential speeches, and obviously American Bandstand that was pulled and slipped into the show?  How seamlessly it all fits together?

And that’s not even to mention all of the extra gems that are hidden away in the DVDs.

I’m obviously too young to have experienced Beatlemania, as I’m guessing a good majority of the people reading are too, but this show captured it exactly as I always imagine it happened.  The girls at the airport, the boys and their haircuts, the guys behind the soundboard in the studio saying, “Big as Elvis?”

“Bigger.”

And the things beyond that that were considered Entertainment are entertaining only because they are so incredibly unentertaining.

Dick Clark lined up four teenage boys on the special The Beatles Are Landing! episode, and they all had A Beatles Haircut.  They told the viewing audience their names, and ages, and gazed awkwardly into the cameras through the hair in their eyes.

That’s it.

Boys.  With haircuts.  Sitting. In a line.

Genius, Mr. Clark.  Genius.

But you take the music geek in me out of it, you take the little bit of high school girl left in me who thinks JJ is dreamy and wants to be Meg out of it, you take the person in me who loves PEOPLE and cries over every social injustice amplified in this show and then reflects on how incredibly amazing it is that we’ve come as far as we have in such a relatively short amount of time… you take her out of it?

And I still have the Me who used to love this show and more than that, used to love watching this show with my mom every Sunday night.

And because I’ve been needing a big dose of Home lately, tonight I’m watching American Dreams until I can’t keep my eyes open anymore.

That’s a reason to smile.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. bra-mance permalink
    September 6, 2009 10:53 pm

    You have no idea how long I have endured jokes about my obsession with “American Dreams” when it was on the air. I was devastated when it went off the air — and, they only put the first season on DVD. Life has not been the same.
    Sunday night soaps are a necessity. I rely on “design star” and a healthy dose of “house hunters” marathons. I guess they aren’t technically soaps, but they do have drama. Adjustable rate or fixed rate mortgages? dun dun dunnnn.

  2. cari permalink
    September 7, 2009 7:46 am

    i’ve honestly never seen an episode. a little sad? probably.

    also, i totally suck at life and haven’t been here since you changed everything.

    i. like. it.

    just wanted to share.

  3. September 7, 2009 9:01 am

    I used to watch that show too! It was so good and I def. have a “girl crush” on Brittany Snow. Just wanted to say hi – just found your blog and love it!

  4. September 7, 2009 2:01 pm

    I LOVED that show. I, too, have the first season. :sigh: I could watch that show for the rest of my life.

  5. September 7, 2009 8:38 pm

    I think everyone has at least one experience with a show like this. I am not much of a fan of “American Dreams,” but every now and then, an old series will get a slot on TV when I’m generally around, and I’ll become a fan of something that has long since either run its course or been cancelled. Perhaps at some point, “American Dreams” will be that show.

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