Since I’m still in the mood for sharing, and yesterday’s list of Top 25 Movies (1st Edition) was so well received. I’m making a list of top 10 television shows that influenced my life, because it wasn’t always about the movies.
These shows opened my eyes to the possibilities of something other than my reality. They opened me up to love, determination, to the ability of wanting something with arduous and unwavering passion. Most importantly, these shows taught me that it was more than okay to want to be better and that everyone makes mistakes.
Again, the list is in no particular order, but they are all very special to me.
- Full House (1987 – 1995) – yes, the Tanner clan were very influential to my life. With their dubbed (Spanish) programming their messages of understanding and family bond wasn’t lost in translation. While at first I thought their constant hugging was a bit strange along with the fact that their parents had dark hair and all the daughters were blonde – I learned much from the Tanners. They were such a stark contrast to my own reality. The Tanners were the ones who sparked the curiosity in me of “well, if someone wrote this, it has to be somewhat true – that’s what writers do isn’t it? draw from reality?” watching them navigate the troubles in life with family talks and hugging them out made me realize that we can and should have more “hugging it out” moments, and not fear of our family not loving us. Also, Michelle was pretty funny, but my favorite was the misunderstood Stephanie who you can watch here.
- The Jeffersons (1975 – 1985) – even though I was quite young to understand the premise of this show, I enjoyed it nonetheless. The fact that Mr. Jefferson black and wealthy, moving from his shoddy neighborhood in Queens to a penthouse apartment in the sky of the East Side in Manhattan was pretty spectacular. This was before African Americans were ‘forced’ into the Eurocentric standards of beauty, as everyone wore their manes au natural, and were like the neighbor from down the hall in my own building. The Jeffersons had a sassy maid who was rude to him, as he was rude to his everyone, including his quirky white neighbor and didn’t get in trouble for it. This family was the closest people on television I could find that sort of resembled my own in color – something that was rare during the early 1980’s. You can watch Florence getting ready for her Mr. Right here.
- Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990 – 1996) – As a teenager, coming from a poor/working class background I was often told that we had a place in life and it wasn’t in a mansion – unless of course, we were hired to clean it. Will, Uncle Phil and Aunt Vivian (Janet Hubert) let me know that with hard work and determination one can indeed change their situation. Coming from a similar socio-economic background as my own family, the Bank’s gave me hope for a better life as they made their way from poverty-stricken Philadephia to affluent Bel-Air and even employing the wonderfully sassy Geoffrey (who often stole the show with his snarky quips). The show was incredibly hilarious as it broke endless stereotypes for people of color, and struck nerves with dramatic episodes where Will and James Avery’s Uncle Phil’s relationship was tested and strengthened, best examples of which can be seen here and here (trigger warning, this might make you cry ugly). This show let me know that my skin color didn’t determine my position in life, nor did my first socio-economic status in life, I could change my life by dedicating myself to be a better human being and working incredibly hard. Also, Hillary was way funnier in Spanish.
- El Chavo del Ocho (1972 – 1979) – Roberto Gómez Bolaños better known as Chespirito, was a staple in many Latin households. His characters that included an orphan child living in a barrel in a housing complex, a clumsy superhero, and a sort of odd couple pairing was the sort of show that was educational, motivational, and pure. Chavo (the aforementioned orphan) was a kid who didn’t have a conventional family, but was adopted by the people who lived in the housing complex where he’d sleep in a barrel. Filled with quirky adventures, he and his bestie/girlfriend La Chilindrina were the best compinches one could find on television for decades (reruns that still can be seen on many Spanish-speaking networks). You can see a little bit of what I’m talking about here.
- Punky Brewster (1984 – 1988) – This show taught me so much. I mean, who doesn’t want to take control of their life? Penelope “Punky” Brewster was abandoned with her dog by her mother at a supermarket by her mother and refuses to stay at the orphanage, so she does what any person would do, takes her dog and leaves to stay at the tree house. Punky’s style of clothing was colorful and fit perfectly with the traditional way Puerto Ricans dressed. I even had some crazy colored high topped shoes inspired by her style. Punky was more spunky than anything else, wise beyond her years, so it was appropriate that she was adopted by the much older and incredibly caring Henry. Sometimes parents aren’t the ones you’re biologically linked to, but the one your heart adopts. Watch Punky find a home here.
- Diff’rent Strokes (1978 – 1986) – talking about orphans…Arnold and Willis Jackson were my top on my list to watch. The family dynamics of this show were groundbreaking. I mean, two African American boys adopted by a wealthy rich man who didn’t see them for their color, but who they were and loved them as they were their own? Who can’t fall in love with that? The episode where the Willis boys want to change their name – tear jerker! This show taught me that doesn’t matter how different we all are, where there’s love there’s a family. Watch the first episode here.
- Knight Rider (1982 – 1986) – my passion for cars began at an early age thanks to my father. Enamored with KITT, I was introduced to the first female mechanic /engineer Bonnie Barstow who knew more about taking care of a car than Michael did. Patricia McPherson’s character and presence empowered me as a girl child. My fascination with cars, and transformers was not ‘boyish’ or reason to be concerning. Furthermore, my heart broke when KITT was destroyed – I forever will hate KARR…that bastard. You can watch the death and rebirth of KITT here.
- Sesame Street (1969 – Present) – What child hasn’t watched this show? My favorite character was the amazing Grover. His craziness taught me to be myself – even if that meant not everyone was going to like me. As we discoed to the ABC’s I learned that it’s okay to not be the boss, it’s okay to be tired, it’s okay to not be able to fly perfectly as he constantly crashed as Super Grover, because sometimes even supers need to take the bus.
- She-Ra: Princess of Power (1985 – 1987) – A strong princess that rebels against evil forces and doesn’t need saving because she’s the one doing all the saving? Yes please! Even at an early age I was a little tired of seeing the damsel in distress both in animated and acted films that couldn’t do anything without a man. She-Ra defied all that and swung her sword kicking ass and taking names – it’s unfortunate she didn’t get the recognition her cousin He-Man and the Masters of the Universe You can watch She-Ra here.
- Thundercats (1985 – 1989) – Adventure, strong female character, crazy kittens causing a ruckus? This cult classic was the best animated program for decades. I’m sure many will agree with me on that. I’m still waiting for the movie to come out; in the meantime I’ll share the first episode with you here.