Series Creator: James Brooks & Alan Burns
MTM was the first show I remember really enjoying with my parents. Until that time, I watched kids TV, alone or with my brother. MTM was a show I could enjoy with Mom and Dad sitting on the couch behind me.
Dad always got home early because he taught middle school band. Mom worked later. She was a A/P clerk for Pepesi Cola. Dad would have dinner ready. After dinner, my brother and I would lay in the middle of the floor on shag carpeting and mom and dad would sit on the couch, usually holding hands.
It probably wasn’t the first show we all enjoyed together, but it’s the one I remember. I remember everyone laughing. Whatever arguments or differences we had, everyone laughed for 30 minutes when Mary Richards made a mess of things.
Life was very, very good.
Series Creator: Larry Gelbert
MASH was the first show I remember changing my mind about something.
Poppa (my grandfaterh) was in World War II. My uncle went was in the Korean war. If there was a war somewhere, we supported it because not supporting it was not supporting the people fighting it.
Alan Alda taught me shows could present alternate arguments that prevail. You could be against war but still have a passion and love for the people who were fighting it. Alan Alda was a liberal’s liberal. He was so passionate about everything he believed in. I think Hawkeye was my first real role model.
Series Creators: William Hanna and Joseph Barberra
The show that taught me as a young child that writing could be bad and could get it completely wrong. I loved the characters so much and the series was so bad. It taught me I could love something that was utterly horrible because of my affinity for the Characters.
Star Trek (TOS)
Series Creator: Gene Roddenberry
The future belonged to smart people. When you’re a smart person in rural Florida and you attend school, you don’t have a great time being smart. Usually you either dumb yourself down to the level of your peers or you get beat up a lot. I chose the latter. Star Trek made me okay with being a nerd. The opening still gives me chills to this day.
Series Creators: William Moulton Marston & Stanley Ralph Ross
In the 70’s and early 80’s, guys were the hero. The story was about the guy. The women were the victim or there to help comfort the victim when the guy saved her. Wonder Woman was having none of your misogyny. She was nobody’s victim and if she was a victim, she saved herself. You can’t put a price tag on the lessons that teaches. Both men and women.
Series Creators: Don Nicholl, Michael Ross & Bernard West
The first time I ever saw someone who was ok with being perceived as gay. Being gay was something that, if you were accused, you fought against it. Jack was not gay but was ok with being perceived as such. Truly revolutionary to an impressionable mind.
Series Creator: Arron Sorkin
Duh, Sorkin. Dialogue, Characters, world-ending stakes, a love of poetry, art, music… respect for the job people elected to office do. There’s no episode of this show that didn’t teach me something. Every dramatic TV writer on the planet in one way or another will live in the shadow of the “Two Cathedrals” episode. It might be the greatest hour ever teleivised. Cursing at God in latin? There aren’t five actors in Hollywood that could ever hope to pull that off.
Series Creator: Alan Ball
I watched the first episode a few weeks after I came out to my my mom. David’s journey was my journey. There’s a scene in the first season where David is on his knees praying not to be gay. Typing that last sentence literally brings tears to my eyes today. I was watching that episode with the few gay friends I had at the time and someone said something to the effect of “Who hasn’t prayed that prayer?” And then I knew that other people had too.