TV in Mayberry


I grew up with many, many great parental influences.  Grandparents, aunts/uncles, friends’ parents, and most importantly my own two parents who presented a fantastic picture of what parenthood truly looks like (in real life).  My parents always made time for my brother and I – AND always made time for each other.   They rarely argued, and when they did, they made sure that it never lasted long, and in the end, they were always on the same team.  My Dad was PTO President and my Mom headed up, what seemed like, every single School Holiday Party, Crossing Guard Meeting, and Tutoring Program.  They were always volunteering their time, energy and love to whatever sport, activity, or event that was important to us kids.  They taught us about God’s Love and a Families Love, and how both are unending and ever-present. 

Some would call the neighborhood I grew up in ‘Mayberry’ – and few others would call it ‘Pleasantville’. Neighbors brought cakes and pies just for the heck of it, spotlight was an every night occurrence, sledding was allowed in anyone’s yard with a good hill, picnics were the usual, and clubs were formed every summer to keep us kids busy and out of trouble.  My family and friends were always participating in or organizing: “Skating Olympics”, Outdoor Theaters, and Neighborhood Caroling Nights that seemed to always end with 20 friends/family gathered in my parents living room around the piano with hot chocolate in hand and wet socks by the fireside.  My childhood was nearly perfect, and I think that it would have made for a great TV program or Family Movie.

But because nobody ever approached us with a brilliant 5-star Sitcom pitch, and because I was an 80’s/90’s kid that, despite having a nearly perfect childhood, still spent a good majority of my time behind a glowing box…I have partly molded my life around television/Hollywood. 

Fictional families helped teach me what it means to be a ‘good kid’, as well as a few of the challenges that will inevitably come along for those of us crazy enough to enter blindly into the world of parenting.  I’m not going to discuss the negativity of devoting such a huge portion of my life to the ‘tube’, but rather remember the positive, and do a little reminiscing of the shows that have made me want to be a parent, or at least made me appreciate children a little more.

So, here is my top-ten list and why they have impacted me so:


#10 – The Brady Bunchthe-brady-bunch-profile

Thankfully ‘Nick at Night’ never quit showing this cheesy, hippy-lovin’, crew because they helped me understand that a family was really just any group of people that loved each other unconditionally.  And on top of that… unbeknownst to Mr. Brady, he planted a career seed in me from the very beginning… 


#9 – Home Improvementhome improvement

A show that me, my brother, AND my parents could enjoy on a nightly basis.  This family taught us about comedy and how it is ok for mom’s and dad’s to laugh at each other, as well as their kids.


#8 – Growing Painsgrowing pains

Ok, so maybe I just had a crush on Kirk Cameron, or maybe I was just SUPER excited that my parents decided to pay extra for ‘The Disney Channel’.  But either way, I do remember spending many half-hours learning the basics of growing up and putting up with this family and all of their quirks.


#7 – Modern Familymodern family

A show that didn’t come about until my adult life, ‘Modern Family’, is a comical release for me – insisting that there is no ‘Typical American Family’ and that we have to be happy with what we’ve got!


#6 – The Cosby Show


Always a hit at the Perry house – Bill Cosby taught us to laugh and love a little stronger.   Not to mention the fact that this family had a huge impact on my generations influence of African American family life and Equality!!  Way to go Cosby’s!


#5 – The Middle


Another new-bie working its way up the list.  This show is a constant reminder of what it is going to be like to be a parent along-side Geoffrey.  Three equally strange children grow up with a super fun loving Super – Dad, and a slightly spastic, but very lovable, Mother.  They are all very ‘average’ – but making the best of life in the ‘Middle’.

#4 – Full House
From wishing to be just like DJ Tanner, to wishing to marry someone as good looking as Uncle Jesse, to learning all of life’s important lessons from Dad (Danny).  This show molded me in many, many ways, on many, many occasions.  I still love when I can catch one of Danny’s famous ‘talks’!
#3 – The Wonder Years
I am really not sure if TV gets any better than the WonderYears.  From the opening song to the closing credits, this show really did reflect my ‘life in Mayberry’ – and who didn’t want to be just like Winnie Cooper?!
little house

#2 – Little House on the Prairie

Going against all rules of age and time, this show taught me how to be a better person and appreciate all of the good life has to offer through family and friends.


#1 – Parenthood

parenthoodA ‘new’ show that has undoubtedly influenced what I wish my family image to reflect.  There is drama, and plenty of it, and not one perfect person.   But in the end there is a lot of love, kindness, respect, and tips for bringing up kids in the 21st century.  A new season will be out in just a few weeks, but if you haven’t yet, I would recommend catching up on what I think is the best show on television.


That’s all for now – see, TV is not so bad… 


One thought on “TV in Mayberry

  1. What great memories….and oh, how the years have flown! I think maybe you missed your calling as a journalist – but, you are a truly gifted architect, too! Reading this has stirred up some amazing memories of experiencing motherhood with two wonderful children…..I feel so blessed by God to have you, John, Dad…..Geoff and NOW Baby Plagemann in my life! GOD IS SO GOOD!!!

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