By Anne Louise Bannon
We have a double post today partly to respond to a comment from last Thursday (see the post below for an important parenting tip), and partly because there are a couple shows coming on this week that I had to mention.
Oh, and Arthur W. Bowman won our contest this week. Arthur correctly identified Robert Young as the actor who played Marcus Welby, M.D. His nifty Hopkins scrubs will be in the mail shortly. Okay, by the end of this week. I promise.
Tonight (June 30), History Detectives on PBS (check your local listings for times) begins another season. This is one of the most under-appreciated shows on TV. Four experts in historical artifacts, Wes Cowan, Elyse Luray, Gwendolyn Wright and Tukufu Zuberi, look at old things presented by average folk and determine not only is the artifact what they think it is, but also what the story is behind it.
For example, a season or so ago, a woman gave them an old religious medal, which was the only connection she had to her birth mother who had given her up for adoption. The medal came from the convent that had housed her birth mother and arranged the adoption – and thanks to the History Detectives, the woman eventually got in contact with her birth mother.
Okay, most of the stories aren’t quite that dramatic, but almost all of them are fascinating and a great way to get your kids interested in history.
Ooooh. Are some of your eyes glazing over? I suspect so. Get over it. If we are to know ourselves, we have to know where we came from. And if you think history is just about this battle and that date, get over that, too. History is our story – it’s who we are as a culture and as individuals. It’s about people. And if you’ve ever had to answer endless questions from the junior members of your family about your childhood and their grandparents and their great-grandparents, then you know history is important. And fun, too. So check it out. It may just inspire a kid who otherwise would be flunking history.
The second show is ABC Family’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” premiering Tuesday (July 1) at 8 p.m. When you consider that almost half of American teens (a stat spouted by a statistics-loving character) are sexually active, this show will certainly provide considerable grist for the conversation mill. Like much of ABC Family’s content, it is not entirely family-safe. But if your kids are ages 11 and older, I would seriously consider watching this show with them.
Yes, it is something of a Juno-redux – the series revolves around the unintended pregnancy of otherwise “nice” girl Amy (Shailene Woodley). Series creator Brenda Hampton (of 7th Heaven fame) presents us with the entire spectrum of attitudes about sexuality – including a couple of kids who are Christians, both of whom believe in abstinence, although he’s having a lot more trouble living it than she is.
My one problem with the series is that it is somewhat heavy-handed. The statistics-spouting girl seems to be more of an excuse to talk about what’s happening with today’s teens than a real person. The Christian kids aren’t very subtle either. Hampton is not exactly painting with watercolors here.
That being said, in a world where kids are bombarded with sexual images, this show is not a bad way to bring the topic to the table, as it were. And, seriously, do you really want your kid thinking he’s a loser because he’s a still a virgin at age 15? I think he’s a winner, but there are an awful lot of media messages out there suggesting otherwise. The good news for you, as his parents, is that you are still his strongest influence, and if you spin a show like this right, you can help him feel like a winner for waiting.