American TV shows….and how they influenced my view of America
A recent article by Ruth Margolis, who writes for the BBC America site Mind the Gap, touched on American TV shows, where she stated (I am guessing with her tongue firmly in her cheek) ‘Want to learn everything there is to know about U.S. society without actually leaving the house? Turn on your telly…’
Is this true? Could I really just watch American TV shows and think I knew America inside and out? To be fair, they do give a good insight into various aspects of the culture, but having lived here, there’s so much more to it, isn’t there now….?!
Glee = high school caricatures and dilemmas (and the odd bit of singing and dancing, which I WISH happened)
The Wire = depicts some areas of Baltimore (the Mayor character is, after all, alleged to be based on my hot politician of the decade, Martin O’Malley)
Desperate Housewives = maybe touches on the lives of many of the women I’ve seen in this very area (not that I’ve seen that many hot gardeners about though, sadly….)
I was influenced by watching American TV, and movies, in my youth. Only in May did I gasp in wonderment at the array of red short and bikini-clad lifeguards running along the beach in Rehoboth – ‘Baywatch!’ I exclaimed with all the joys of the show circling around in my TV-fed head.
I paused ‘E.T’ only the other week whilst watching it with Harry and madly gesticulated at the screen which showed, in one scene, the large houses with unfenced gardens and steps to the decking at the back – ‘Real American houses!’ I declared. You see, I’d seen these houses before in many a movie or TV show, but I only just realised that they do exist in ‘real life’. Obviously, I realise that aliens aren’t real, but then I also watched the X Files, so you never know….
I see the movie-set America on my travels, but does any of it adequately explain the culture of America? No show on TV prepared me for the real way of American life; that is the one I am living now. But I love seeing aspects of it, and acknowledging the TV shows that have influenced my outlook as they appear to me in a USA landscape or setting as I take my slow, but steady, tour across America.
I’m sure there will be many more times that I say ‘Oooh, it’s just like such and such TV show/movie…’ (I look forward to and dread the moment I reference ‘Deliverance’, though…. )
Here’s Ruth’s piece so you can make your own mind up
I’m running another series of interviews, touching on subjects such as living in the capitals – London and DC -, parenting and schooling in the UK and the USA.
Here’s the first for your enjoyment….
An interview with Alexia, Mum in London
I’m Alexia, translator and full time mum, half French/half Greek. I moved from Athens to London in September 2012 with my husband, Mr K, and our son, Baby Lu, for my husband’s new job.
What you love about London?
I love London parks; from Holland Park’s peacocks to Richmond Park’s deer, I can’t get enough of their beauty. They are the ideal place for family outings and picnics, whatever the weather.
How is living in the UK different from the other countries you have lived in?
The main difference between London and Athens, not surprisingly, is the weather. Rain, cold and cloudy skies are a big challenge for us. Life in London is also considerably more expensive than in Athens, especially rents and childcare. Then again, it’s also a lot more organised and stress-free when compared to the small chaos of Athens’ city life.
What cultural traditions from the UK do you admire and partake in?
I like the “cool enthusiasm” British people have for all things British. For the Wimbledon tournament, the Royal Family and everything around it, the 2012 Olympic Games… I admire and applaud the unpretentious way they feel proud about their country.
How much do you think European culture influences life in the UK?
Not much. From what I have experienced so far, I believe the UK, as an island, has its own way of doing things and a distinct character that welcomes few foreign influences. Here, I do not feel I’m in Europe as I do when I’m in France or in Greece.
How do you find being a mum in London/UK is different from Europe?
Not having your family’s help is quite difficult when you’re raising a child. But the hardest part is childcare costs in the UK. They are so expensive, it makes little sense for a mum to work. That is different from most European countries, where childcare is more affordable or even free.