I love you, PBS

4 Oct

I’ll admit, I didn’t watch the debates last night. I had a board meeting for my local youth soccer organization (www.ayso423.org), and I didn’t get home until after 9:00, which meant I had been going nonstop for about 14.5 hours. I was too tired to turn on the tv. I am happy to report, however, that in addition to continuing as Coach Administrator, I have volunteered to coach next year’s VIP team, which is composed of children and adults with mental and physical disabilities. I’m super excited!! I love these kids – they’re fun to work with and really inspirational. [For more info on the program, check out the national AYSO website: http://www.ayso.org/programs/vip/what_is_vip.aspx]

Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is, I logged on to facebook to get a summary of the debates. I was quite surprised to learn that Mitt Romney said that he loves Big Bird, but he would eliminate funding for PBS from the federal budget.

I am not intending to debate the merits [or lack thereof] of his proposal. I am simply writing today to defend PBS and how awesome it really is.

The main talking point seems to be Sesame Street and its merits. Sesame Street was originally designed by Joan Ganz Cooney to provide an alternative television program geared towards children. And she used Jim Henson’s Muppets to get that message across. And it worked! It revolutionized television and children’s programming! It teaches children the alphabet, phonics, early math concepts… the list goes on. Now, granted, the Sesame Street of today is not the Sesame Street you grew up with. (I don’t remember Elmo ever talking when I was a kid.) The show is broken up into smaller segments featuring Abby Cadabby, Elmo’s World, and this guy:

He kind of sucks, honestly

That’s Murray and his little lamb. (Get it?) The lamb screams in Spanish as she goes flying across the screen and he tries to figure out what she’s doing that day. Like I said, not the same.

BUT! Is Sesame Street the only show on PBS? No! There’s tons of quality, awesome programming that the whole family enjoys!

For kids Danny’s age, there’s PBS Kids, with shows like Arthur (who doesn’t love Arthur?!), the (new) Electric Company, and, our favorite, Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman. Seriously, this show is great. It’s an animated dog that hosts a game show for kids out of his garage where they go on various challenges and learn about science, history, sports, and other really cool stuff. It sounds weird, but it’s fantastic.

Ruff > Murray.

It’s Danny’s favorite show. It’s sponsored by the National Science Foundation. It’s gotten him interested in science. It’s funny enough that I’ll sit down and watch it with him – and I learn stuff too. For example: one challenge, the kids had to go to a manners lesson. Did you know that the proper way to signal to your waiter that you’re done with your meal is to imagine your plate as a clock, and place your fork at 3:00? Thanks, Ruff!

For kids younger than Danny, there’s more than just Sesame Street. There’s Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, the new animated adventures of my favorite Mr. Rogers character. There’s Sid the Science Kid, a kid who investigates science questions. There’s Martha Speaks, a talking dog who teaches vocabulary. And there’s really adorable Curious George narrated by William H. Macy.

The best part of the kids programming, compared to all the other channels, is the no commercials. I can let Danny watch PBS Kids for a while and know that he’s not being inundated with commercials for toys, McDonalds, inappropriate movies. Just science, math, reading, and social skills. Which is awesome.

And it’s not just educational programming for kids. My parents watch PBS every weekday – for Chicago Tonight. It’s a local news program that brings on a panel of commenters to talk about current issues in the city. They always try to present representatives from both sides of an issue. And it has Carol Marin conducting one-on-one interviews.

Carol Marin > Murray.

So there’s that. PLUS there’s the special programs PBS airs. It was an event in my house growing up when they aired Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and the third Anne movie that was honestly kind of terrible. There’s American Masters, and Ken Burns documentaries. I’ve flipped to PBS and learned about diverse characters, like Frank Lloyd Wright and Richard Rogers (of Rogers & Hart and Rogers & Hammerstein. Somehow, I had never put two and two together that they were the same guy.) There’s opera, musicals, and orchestra performances. Lots of culture that I can watch without commercials.

And, best of all, Masterpiece Mystery and Masterpiece Theater, so I can watch Sherlock and Downton Abbey, respectively. As my sister says of Downton Abbey, “If I didn’t love that show, I’d hate it.” Historical melodrama with fancy hats and Maggie Smith? Yes please.

Maggie Smith > Everything else.

So, thank you PBS. Thank you for everything you do for my family. Thank you for continuing to provide quality programming, with no commercials, and I support you.

What’s your favorite PBS show?

p.s. their website, pbskids.org, is also entertaining. You can get a better idea of the variety of quality children’s programming available.

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6 Responses to “I love you, PBS”

  1. Vicki October 4, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

    Pretty sure it’s not on any longer, but I think Mister Roger’s Neighborhood was one of the best shows ever. When it was still on, I remember (this had to be about 3 years ago or so) I happened to flip to it, and it was the show dealing with how to deal with the loss of a pet. I was 29 years old, and I was crying my eyes out and being comforted by Fred Rogers. He was such a gentle, creative man who believed in encouraging children and teaching them about all the things in the world that they wonder about. He dealt with delicate issues in a kind way, and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized he was a minister. He wasn’t preachy or partisan. He taught you how to be a good person, and how to deal when life is sometimes unfair or sad. There is a YouTube video of the speech he gave in the late 1970s to Congress in defense of public broadcasting and what shows like his would do to benefit children. He moved even the Congresspeople. The quality of shows on PBS are unparalleled. They’re educational without being dull; they instill culture and perspective, and there aren’t ads flashing up, quick wipes and montages meant to sustain a five second attention span. I would often flip to Nova when I was growing up, because I was absolutely fascinated by their nature programs. There’s just nothing else like it. There are probably 500 channels of crap like the Kardashians and Snooki and even cartoons like Phineas and Ferb (okay, they’re funny) that are so full of non-sequiturs and flash from here to there to this scene to that…

    I guess tv doesn’t have to always have a lesson or a moral. But I like that PBS offers things that are entertaining that also manage to expand your mind and your understanding of things in the world…from Antiques Roadshow to Sesame Street. And, of course, without PBS I wouldn’t have Sherlock!

  2. leslie October 4, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

    @ Vicki, Mr. Rogers may not be on anymore (because he can’t be), but there is a cartoon spin-off called Daniel Tiger on now.

  3. sohobbes October 4, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

    The spin off is cute, but for some reason the cat is named Katarina, not Henrietta, which bothers me.

  4. BLACK HAT HACKER October 5, 2012 at 2:59 am #

    Reblogged this on Mega Spot.

  5. Erika b October 8, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

    I absolutely LOVE the American Experience series as well as Eyes on the Prize about Civil Rights. My kids love it too- Tobin is into Clifford. Also, you’re right, the third Anne movie was abysmal and should never have happened that way.

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