You know what I like about that picture? You get the sense that she knows it's all a lark, all play-acting, and she doesn't care if it ends in a few years and she's off to something else.
Now get this: By the way: she married a guy named Tom Harmon, a football player who because a broadcaster. They had a son named Mark. He's on TV to this very day, which makes her the grandma-in-law of Mindy. Her daughter married Ricky Nelson, the son of Ozzie and Harriet - which made her the grandmother of these guys.
I watched the 500th Simpsons last night, because it was the 500th episode. I suspect many tuned in, just to see what they’d do, or to have their suspicions reconfirmed, or see if Barney is drinking again. It made me nostalgic for the 90s, and I’m never nostalgic for the 90s.
(ten minutes thinking about the 90s)
It’s odd. The 90s were interesting. If there was a decade in my life I’d like to replay, that would be the one. The reason I have no nostalgia of the sorts you get for your teens and twenties is this: I was divorced from popular music. Not from popular culture, just the music. Early on in the 90s a switch flipped, and everything on the radio started to sound annoying or irrelevant, full of convictions I didn’t share. When that happens, memories lose their soundtracks. Maybe that’s it.
What were the sounds of the 90s? Here. I like quite a few. I remember listening to “All I Wanna Do” while watching the sun go down over Santa Monica Boulevard, which was a nice moment. I only remember “Buddy Holly” because the video came with a computer I bought. Otherwise, lots of songs whose artist had a made-up name with a hyphen, and “featured” two or three people of whom I was unaware.
But everything else, I was chin deep into it, particularly that new “information superhighway” that was changing everything. Oh, it was a heady time. AOL was redefining communications! The nation was nodding its head along to the sounds of the Geto Boys, and Phil Hartman was keeping everyone in stitches. That, by the way, was a Simpsons reference. Not the Phil Hartman part. The construction and phrasing, which itself was a reference to something no one could quite identify, but everyone knew. That was the beauty of the show: it had a way of drawing things out of the cultural atmosphere that had always been there, like floaty motes in your eye, but hadn’t been pointed out and lampooned. It was written by people who grew up watching TV through parodic filters, but weren’t completely disconnected from genuine emotion. At its height the show could take a hard right-turn into sentiment without ever having that “Very Special Episode” feel, because they could do just about anything, and it fit.
Until Phil Hartman died and every episode became “Now Homer is Going to Do This, Poorly” or “Lisa Mouthpieces Some Contemporary Pieties.” It never seemed to occur to anyone to look back at “Streetcar named Marge” and note what made it work - as if the musical inside the episode wasn’t brilliant enough, it had a Birds / Great Escape parody tucked in a subplot. It was smart stuff. But if you’re going to do a show about how stupid the main character is, then you get a stupid show.
All that’s permitted on YouTube are tiny excerpts . . .