The League XII: “When I Was 12…” Part 2 – Television.

For those of you who may not know, Kevin Hellions is part of the League of Extraordinary Bloggers.  The League is a collection of bloggers who all discuss geeky topics.  Once a week we’re given a topic to go crazy over.  And this week I am going crazy.  Here is the weekly topic:

Grab Rufus and head to the phone booth, because this week, we’re going back in time! Dial up the year you turned 12, and revisit the last official year of your “childhood.”

I was 12 in the crazy year of 1990.  And it was crazy.  So much happened in that year that has affected me to this day, that one post isn’t enough to cover it all.  Throughout the weekend I’ll be thinking about many events in 1990 and how they still affect the Hellion you see before you.  (Well, you don’t really see me but … you know.)

Part 1 looked at music.

Part two, this part, is all about television.

There are a lot of shows that are loved in the geek community that started in 1990.  Shows that I watched at the time, some I got into later, and others that I keep telling myself I’ll get around to eventually.  Twin Peaks was 1990 and one day I’ll watch the two seasons in a row, but it hasn’t happened yet.  The Flash came out and for the first time I got to see a super hero on TV every week.  Well, when I could watch it.  This was before DVRs and we grew up with only one TV in the house.  If there was a Yankees game on, then that TV was taken.  I missed a lot of cool shows over the years before I wised up and bought my own TV, VCR and paid for an extra line of cable.

This was the start of Fox Kids and the Disney Afternoon.  Just when I was being told to grow up and stop watching cartoons great cartoons debuted.  Or continued airing as part of these programming blocks.  Tiny Toons Adventures, Ducktales, Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers, and more.  But this was also the year that brought us cartoons based on Kid N Play and the New Kids on the Block.  Which would be some of the worst ideas ever if it weren’t for the upcoming Hammerman cartoon.  Magic shoes!

No, there were two TV shows that mattered and helped change the world in 1990.  The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Beverly Hills 90210.

When I was in school, from Kindergarten through 8th grade I can think of 4 “non white” (apologies for the term, but its to make a point) kids combined.  That’s 9 years of school.  Numerous kids coming in and out of school while parents move and new families come in.  And there were only 4.

So when I, my brother, or any other kid in this predominately white town sat down and turned on NBC to see an all black family sitcom, no one knew what to expect.  Will Smith was the best known person on the cast (duh).  Sanford and Son had Redd Foxx, the Cosby Show had Bill.  People who my grandparents and parents had seen on TV for years and thought “well he’s alright, I can watch this show”.  Now here comes this rapper.  What the hell kind of show are my kids watching?

We all watched one of the best, most wholesome, funny, family sitcoms of all time.  We watched Will Smith grow from a baby faced kid who did some PG raps into one of the biggest actors on the planet.  We learned not only about black culture but also about the gap between rich and poor and how none of this matters.  What matters is busting your ass, being a good person, and always being there for your “family”.  Family may not be your blood father and mother, etc.  It can be your uncles, aunts, cousins, your best friend Jazz.  It is the people who have stuck by you through everything.  Whether you’re hanging out with Quincy Jones or getting shot at the ATM.  Family is there.

I’m planning a wedding and I can damn sure tell you there is your blood family or your family by choice.  I have my Carlton, Hillary and Ashley.  I have my Jazz.  I learned to not think that my parents are morons.  “You don’t know what I’m going through!”  Hey, they may have not heard Malcolm X speak like Uncle Phil did.  But my Dad boxed a kangaroo!  Beat that!

Sure, I watched Full House and Family Matters and Blossom.  But I didn’t learn a damn thing about growing up or about family from any of those shows.  It took a family in Bel Air and a kid who was born and raised in West Philadelphia to teach me.

Then there was Beverly Hills 90210.

A lot of us are bringing up great childhood memories of when we were 12.  But we’re forgetting the other part of being 12.  Discovering girls.  Girls were starting to develop and as a boy I was starting to pay attention, but not have a clue what I would do with them but knowing I wanted them.  I was a comic book reading, non sports playing kid.  So what I mean is I had no game.  I didn’t know how to talk to girls, or even what to talk to them about.  So I listened.  And every single one was watching 90210.

So that meant I had to watch it too.

And, damnedest thing, I ended up liking it.  All of the girls were cute.  The guys were cool.  There was great music every week (or so I thought at the time).  They had cars and big houses and money and everything was fast.  They had the Peach Pit!  Oh how I yearned for somewhere to hang out.

When the whole school emptied so Donna Martin could graduate, I was there!  I anxiously awaited every turn with the various love triangles.  I was shocked when Kelly Kapowski transferred in from Bayside High and started smoking weed.  I choose me!

Some of you younger bloggers have your own young pretty rich teens show.  Dawson’s Creek, the OC, Pretty Little Liars.  I’ll tell you now.  You wont get to be that rich, your friends wont be that hot, and real life is nothing at all like these shows.  But for the younger mind these shows are loads of fun.  Its a fantasy.  Its everything your young teen mind dreams of having.  When you don’t know how to act, or who to be, why not imagine being the coolest person in school?  It totally makes sense.

Until they just fucking murder Dylan’s wife!  What the hell?!  This was a show about kids in high school (and then college).  Fuck it!  I’m done with you 90210.  You have become too ridiculous.


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