TUBE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (INTRO)
July 31, 2018
One of 25 installments in a series of enthusiastic posts analyzing and celebrating a few of our favorite TV shows from the Fifties (1954–1963).
Each year since 2011, HILOBROW has published a new “enthusiasm” series — in which 25 of our talented friends and regular contributors share their passion for… hip hop music of the Seventies (1974–1983), say, or fantasy novels of the Thirties (1934–1943), or neo-noir movies of the Sixties (1964–1973). In an effort to include every medium and era in our “enthusiasm” purview, this August we’ll publish 25 (+2) posts about TV shows from the Fifties.
The cultural (as opposed to calendrical) era to which Americans refer when they speak of “the Fifties” began in 1954, according to HILOBROW’s periodization schema, and ended in 1963. Luc Sante, Barbara Bogaev, James Hannaham, Gary Panter, Mimi Lipson, Mark Kingwell, Lynn Peril, Annie Nocenti, Erik Davis, Sarah Weinman, yours truly, and other TUBE YOUR ENTHUSIASM contributors will help HILOBROW readers see TV shows from this period — e.g., The Three Stooges, The Twilight Zone, Route 66, Have Gun — Will Travel, The Honeymooners — through our eyes. What did we find so compelling about these shows when we first encountered them as kids growing up in the Sixties and Seventies? What do we still enjoy about them today? We’ll enthuse about the shows’ characters, scripts, conceits, actors, sets, and mise-en-scènes; we’ll also reminisce, fondly or not so fondly, about our childhoods.
However, we’ll also offer critiques. We’re well aware that the Fifties were a shitty era in many ways — and that this shittiness is evidenced not only by the content of many of these TV shows, but by what’s not depicted, including: racial and ethnic diversity, independent women, same-sex relationships. HILOBROW is not Nick at Nite, in other words, nor does TUBE YOUR ENTHUSIASM promote the idea of making America great again. Sure, we’ll seek to avoid “presentism” — the anachronistic projection of present-day ideas and values into the past — but our contributors won’t shy away from pointing out ideas and values on display in these shows which we find lacking, repugnant, bizarre, or absurd. For example: Even as a kid, Jessamyn West wondered, about The Jetsons, “Why have a humanoid maid in a costume with a female voice?”; and Peter Doyle is frustrated with how close The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, which he once found so progressive, comes to subversion and resistance… without getting there. So although our intention is to celebrate Fifties TV shows that we enjoy, our enthusiasm will not, we hope, be naive or unalloyed.
Also, in a more positive vein, this series’ lineup includes installments on shows — The Twilight Zone, say, or Rocky & Bullwinkle — that were bitingly satirical regarding Fifties culture.
Finally, it’s important to point out that although HILOBROW’s enthusiasm may be child-like, at times, it is not childish. Although we may be straightforwardly, seriously enthusiastic about some aspects of Fifties TV shows, that is to say, HILOBROW’s contributors can simultaneously be ironically enthusiastic. We love some of these shows not despite but because of (or bespite) their flaws and weirdnesses. Adrienne Crew, for example, wonders whether there’s something sinister going on in My Three Sons; and Dan Reines wonders why the kids on Davey & Goliath talk like grownup Lutherans. HILOBROW champions the crucial insight that although irony may be opposed to Naomi Klein-esque sincerity, it is not opposed to seriousness, to heartfelt emotion, or to sentiment; so please don’t confuse HILOBROW’s ironic appreciations with “hate-watching” (ugh). We’re enthusiastic about these shows!
Below is the complete TUBE YOUR ENTHUSIASM lineup:
- Luc Sante on LOONEY TUNES
- Chris Spurgeon on THE THREE STOOGES
- Adrienne Crew on MY THREE SONS
- Barbara Bogaev on ROCKY & BULLWINKLE
- Devin McKinney on THE TWILIGHT ZONE
- James Hannaham on THE NAT KING COLE SHOW
- Mimi Lipson on THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES
- Jessamyn West on THE JETSONS
- Gary Panter on THE OUTER LIMITS
- Peter Doyle on THE MANY LOVES OF DOBIE GILLIS
- Mark Kingwell on ROUTE 66
- Josh Glenn on THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW
- Lynn Peril on THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW
- Rob Walker on LEAVE IT TO BEAVER
- Dan Reines on DAVEY & GOLIATH
- Adam McGovern on HIGHWAY PATROL
- Erik Davis on HAVE GUN — WILL TRAVEL
- Greg Rowland on THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW
- Annie Nocenti on THE AVENGERS
- Elizabeth Foy Larsen on GUNSMOKE
- Sarah Weinman on NAKED CITY
- Douglas Rushkoff on THE HONEYMOONERS
- Kio Stark on ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS
- Gordon Dahlquist on PERRY MASON
- Crystal Durant on Marc Anthony & Pussyfoot shorts
- CODA: Mike Watt on “A Stop at Willoughby”
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