Television saved my life

I’m the apparently rare breed of person who hasn’t watched a lot of television in his life. This was more due to financial contraints than a hipster’s disdain for the infamous boob tube - when you’ve got barely enough money to buy groceries, it’s a pretty easy decision. Oh - except for the Simpsons. Man, I love that show.

Perhaps because of this, I’m a complete ignoramus when it comes to television culture. I remember a time when I was lazing about with some folks from work a few years back. They were killing themselves laughing about the exploits of some guy; from the sounds of it, he was just hi-larious. Knee-slapping funny. Stomach-achingly silly.

Interested, I said, “Wow, that sounds funny! Who’s this soup nazi fellow?”

They all stopped talking, and simultaneously gave me this look like I had just said, “Jesus? Who the HELL is that?”

No, I’ve never been well acquainted with the cathode ray tube world of television. That is, until four months ago when I moved back to Winnipeg. Don’t get me wrong - there’s a lot of things to do in Winnipeg - but in the midst of -30 degrees celsius weather, the last thing you want to do is actually go outside to find them. For the first time since I lived with my parents, televsion became a trusted friend and welcome visitor in my home.

Emeril! Iron Chef! MASH! The Simpsons 24-hours a day! Ancient re-runs of Saturday Night Live! That fucking purple monstrosity, Barney! The pompous Alex Trebek and Jeopardy! LA Law! And, my current favorite, Win Ben Stein’s Money.

I love games shows. Always have. Some of my best television moments were spent basking in the warming glow of classic game shows. I learned about the dangers of gluttony from Press Your Luck… got an education in family harmony and cooperation from Family Fued… discovered smart shopping, and my budding heterosexuality from the vixens of The Price Is Right… and dreamed of enlightenment in front of CBC’s Reach for the Top. None of these come close to the all-you-can-eat joy of Win Ben Stein’s Money.

It’s got trivia! Difficult questions! Blatant homo-eroticism! Snarky irreverent behavior! And a cranky old Jewish guy! How could you NOT like it? Ah, yes. Television? Where have you been all my life?

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