Over here, I got into, what my husband charmingly calls a pissing contest with Whammo over ‘positive’ TV shows. Whammo felt that we were dissing the “One show on TV with a positive message.” My reply:
Whammo requested a cite. Seeking an excuse to blow off homework, I jumped at the chance.
I spent several hours with a TV Guide categorizing television shows. I decided (seeing as how I’m eventually going to have to do some damn homework) to narrow my research to one day – Thursday, March 8. For the purposes of TV Guide, ‘Thursday’ is between 5AM Thursday, March 8 and 4:30 AM Friday, March 9. Some specifics – I counted shows not hours. Furthermore, I counted every instance when a show aired – Howard Stern, for instance, aired 4 times. I did not count movies, infomercials or shopping shows. Nor did I count any shows airing on Pay Channels – just your basic cable stuff. Here are my results:
News and Information: The largest category and the one taking in the most subtypes. Under this umbrella I counted: local and national news, newsmagazines, documentries, business and finance shows, ‘old style’ and morning talk shows, educational-type programs on the History, Discovery, A&E type channels and how-to shows from HGTV and the Food channel. Also, anything else that seemed to fall under the “info” or “edu” -tainment category. There were 269 shows under this category.
Religion: Yes, Virginia, there is religous programming on TV. Even on Thursdays. I used the “religion” heading because that is what TV Guide calls this programming. However, it should be called “christian programming,” because it is, without exception, Christian. Go figure. There were 41 of these shows.
Sports: Televised sporting events, sports commentaries and other sports shows – including ‘extreme sports,’ fishing and camping shows. Also exercise shows. 77 examples.
Kids programming: Sesame Street-type educational programming, Teletubbie’-type pre-school programming, and general ‘kid-shows’ ranging from Kipper to RugRats to Power Rangers. Some will say that much of this programming fails the ‘positive’ test due to violence. I disagree. Super-hero cartoons (the most ‘violent’) are basically about the triumph of good over evil – and good always triumphs. I call this positive. Often cheesy, but positive. 128 examples.
Game shows: This category gave me some problems – I originally called it ‘neutral.’ Finally, I decided to stick them in the ‘positive’ pile. Some are educational, after all. And most encourage a degree of interaction from the viewer (playing along) that I am going to call positive. 31 examples.
Sitcoms: Yes, sitcoms are positive. They are all about family – either nuclear families (which are, almost without exception, intact, BTW) or ‘manufactured’ families made up of friends or co-workers existing together in a degree of inter-connectedness I have rarely ever seen in real life. People who love each other, help each other and contantly strive to do the right thing? If that ain’t positive, I don’t know what is. 175 examples.
Dramas: These are the prime-time shows that get the hit for violence – especially the cop shows. However, they don’t meet my criteria for negative programming. As with kid’s super-hero shows they are all about good triumphing over evil. And, good usually wins – often after a struggle that makes the fight even more heroic. Think NYPD Blue here. Also, relationship and family dramas, which met the same criteria for positive-ness that sitcoms did. 95 examples.
So there are 816 total examples of Positive Programming scheduled to appear on television on Thursday, March 8.
This is pretty long. I think I’ll list Negative Programming under a second post.