When I was a child and then a teenager, in the 60s and 70s, the only new television programs airing in the U.S. were on ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS. Therefore there were relatively few television shows to watch. We also did not have computers and video games back then so I imagine that a larger percent of time was spent watching TV. My point is that because so many people were watching so few shows, the people in this age group (the younger half of the baby boom) have a shared nostalgia of television shows of their youth.
I worry that our teens won’t experience this when they are our age. Ever since Fox became the fourth network, more and more channels have been adding new programming to their lineup. The viewing audience today is so fragmented that most people haven’t even heard of many of the television shows currently on the air.
Baby boomers can sit around and reminisce about Bewitched, Gilligan’s Island, Happy Days and Three’s Company, whether they were fans or not. Everybody knew about every show and had probably seen them all a few times even if they didn’t like them. It is almost impossible to keep up with every show that comes on now. It is hard enough to even remember what number channel each station is on.
American Idol is currently one of the few television shows that have high enough ratings and buzz that it is sure to be part of our teens shared memories in the future. But even its ratings are lower than most average shows were years ago. I really don’t know if there will be too many shows that they will all remember. Who knows, this might lead to a form of making friends. Two current teens meet thirty years from now and if they remember the same television shows they become great friends; if not, they go their separate ways.