Down with reality shows.
Tossing strangers on a beach in Costa Rica, surrounding them with boom mics, and overdubbing dramatic music is starting to get old. I’m not saying sweaty cooking competitions, suspenseful scale weigh-ins, or watching people who think they can dance dance isn’t always fun. It’s just that flipping past a neverending series of teary camera confessions, backstage breakdowns, and envelope opening closeups is making our thumbs hurt.
It’s time to go back to the good ol’ days from the 80’s and 90’s when cheesy scripts, awkward situations, and big dollops of family values got stirred into thirty minutes of prime time television on Friday night. Take us back to nutty roommates, take us back to closing morals, and take us all the way back to the cheesy theme songs:
10. Blossom. Buried between Cosby Show style dance moves and constant wardrobe changes is a bit of solid self-help advice: “Don’t know about the future, that’s anybody’s guess. Ain’t no good reason for getting all depressed.” In addition to the philosophizing this sitcom wins the Most Strange Names Ever competition with Blossom, Six, and Buzz all on the final ballot. In the words of Joey Russo: Whoa!
9. Home Improvement. This must have been a low-budget show from the beginning judging by the “construction cut-outs scattered on a desk” opening sequence. That also explains why they couldn’t afford rights to show Wilson’s whole face or spring for acting lessons for the youngest son.
8. Married… With Children. Ol’ Blue Eyes croons about love and marriage as a grouchy Al Bundy gives away all his money on the couch. Let’s be honest — the dog never gets old.
7. Family Matters. One great thing about old-school sitcoms was when they suddenly had a wild non-sensical plotline requiring the viewer to suspend all disbelief. Let’s call it the Great Gazoo effect. The best of these was definitely Steve Urkel’s classic alter-ego Stefan Urquelle where Urkel transformed his DNA using “Cool Juice” to suppress his nerd genes in an attempt to win over Laura’s heart. Just beautiful.
6. Martin. If you know what they’re singing in this theme song you win a prize. It sounds sort of like “Martin”, but sort of like, well, not that. Of course, the most common question people asked while watching this show was: Is that Martin playing someone else? Of course, the second most common question was: What else is on? (Note to Martin Lawrence: I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Thanks again for reading this blog. Love your work.)
5. Roseanne. Feel that raging saxophone smack you in the chest like you just walked into a smoky blues club on the south side. Get a little dizzy from the long and slow dinner-table-wraparound camera shot. Let this opening hypnotize you and laugh along with the high-pitched giggle at the end.
4. Friends. Back when I was growing up in the burbs our group of friends didn’t always have much to do on Friday nights. Sure, there was movies, there was the mall, there was the food court, but sometimes it all got a bit old. I wish one of us had thought of dressing up in suits and dancing in a water fountain.
3. The Wonder Years. Joe Cocker’s strained crescendo-building ballad over grainy family videos of wistful summer barbecues gets me every time. Every relationship in the show is almost perfectly reduced to a couple seconds of cutaways in this opening montage. Pass the tissues and tune the heartstrings. We’re going in.
2. Full House. Everywhere you look… Michelle is mispronouncing ice-cream, Danny is cleaning the cleaning supplies, Jesse is writing commercial jingles, Kimmy Gibbler is going bananas, and Joey is telling everyone to just cut… it… out.
1. Fresh Prince of Bel Air. I think we can testify to the long-running greatness of Will Smith’s Bel Air antics. For those of you who missed this series let me summarize the two main jokes for you: 1. Uncle Phil is fat. 2. Carlton is short. Also, you want to know what’s rarer than seeing Bigfoot flying on a spotted owl while eating a Pizza Sub from Subway? I’ll tell you: Seeing the long version of this classic. Let’s break it down:
These days we may be knee-deep in reality TV but that doesn’t mean we can’t relive old favorites from yesterday. Grab a bowl of popcorn, pour a glass of cola, and curl up under the blankets as we all go back together to enjoy these great moments with old friends.
Hope you’re having a good week.
Okay, do you want to hear a crazy story?
Two years ago I asked my publisher if we could do a kid’s book. “What kind of kid’s book?,” they asked. “With stickers and crossword puzzles?”
“No,” I said. “Can we do something visually stunning and hyperrealistic? Something that sends people’s minds to crazy places? Something that teaches them mindfulness and meditation without banging a rubber mallet on their foreheads about it? Oh! And can we let them control the entire book? Like, their fingers make the book zoom in, their breath blows the waves bigger, and they flip the book to flip themselves underwater?”
They blinked with completely straight faces for several seconds.
I think this is what’s known in the book industry as a no.
But several big meetings, dozens of photographers, hundreds of pictures, and two years later, we are finally finished this journey and finally able to tell you all about it.
I’m really excited to announce that right here, right now, we are launching the first ever fully interactive, hyper-photorealistic children’s book in the entire world.
Want to see it?! Check it out here.
And how did this book get made??
Well, all kid’s books up till now are illustrations or photos. But we partnered with a Discovery Channel animation studio to stitch together images from NASA, electron-microscope-wielding scientists, and beach and wildlife photographers from around the world. (My favorite was a guy from Cuba who took pictures of crabs for us.)
And that whole story brings us all to this, to here, to now. I’m excited to share this new book in the awesome series with all of you. Where the other books are the observation of awesome this is the first one that shares the experience of awesome.
Awesome Is Everywhere is available for order today on Indigo or Amazon.
I hope you like it,