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News Flash: Kids should watch lots of TV!

Turning off the tube can make you a dummy, says Rebecca Ascher-Walsh

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News Flash: Kids should watch lots of TV!

I’m panicking for the welfare of my children. Never mind that I don’t have any yet — ever since I read the report that kids aren’t supposed to watch television, I’ve been experiencing agita at the thought that my future offspring might grow up, as I did, completely ignorant of their culture.

The Brady Bunch goes to Hawaii. Fonzie falls in love with Pinkie Tuscadero. Smart people worship Kate Jackson, and Cheryl couldn’t hold a candle to Farrah. Oh, and someone shot J.R. Not only do these things mean nothing to me, but I had to interview a friend just to get this list of essential moments.

As a kid, I wasn’t allowed to watch television or eat sugared cereal, the idea being that both would make me stupid. So while I sat in my room reading Proust and eating All Bran, I sneered at the dummies who were sitting in their dens, stuffing their mouths with Fruit Loops and watching the Jeffersons move on up. Imagine my surprise when I found these ”dummies” making up the rest of my college class. Imagine my horror when I found these ”dummies” were not only my colleagues at work, but my bosses.That I work for an entertainment magazine only makes it all the more obvious — thanks to missing this aspect of my development, I’m the dummy.

A couple years ago, realizing I was my own adult person, I decided to change my ways. I studied television the way other people take cooking classes. But I’m afraid it’s too late for me: Even when I find a show I do like (”Oz,” ”ER”) I’m so unprogrammed to watch TV that I forget when a show is on. I watched the first episode of HBO’s ”The Sopranos” and loved it, but by the time I remembered to watch it again, it was the season finale and I was completely confused. I have a giant stack of tapes from the last season sitting on top of my TV, but the thought of going back and watching them in order to clear the decks for the new season is just too daunting.

So I’m settling into my stupid status, and understanding that the outcome of Ross and Rachel’s drunken nuptials, Felicity’s romantic choices, and the birth of Carol Hathaway’s babies will mean as much to me as when Carol Brady lost her earring. But I am saving those past episodes of ”The Sopranos”; my kids might want to watch ’em when they get home from nursery school.