The (Questionable) Television Tastes of a Tween Karen

by Karen

Back when I was an impressionable tween (ages 9 – 12), The Disney Channel was not part of the basic cable package. It was a fancy channel because it cost extra, like HBO and Showtime. But when I was in the fourth grade, I had an emergency appendectomy that required a stay in the hospital. And while I was there, I had unlimited access to Kids Incorporated and The New Mickey Mouse Club. I was in heaven (actually, not really – thanks to the skilled surgeons who operated on me in the wee hours of the morning). My classmates wrote me cards, I had unlimited jello, and I was able to see a young Justin Timberlake prance around the screen singing about school. Honestly, not a bad gig.

So here I am, almost 20 years later, sans appendix and with fond memories of The Disney Channel. And wouldn’t you know, a couple years after my surgery, The Disney Channel became part of the regular cable package. This means that I became exposed to a couple of Canadian shows that still stick with me today – Flash Forward and Ready or Not. Thank you Disney Channel of the early-to-mid 1990s.

I think my obsession with the harmonica (apparently I am folksy) was fueled by the intro to Flash Forward. Are any of you familiar with the show? There were only two seasons and much to my dismay, the series was cancelled after Becca and Tucker realized their feelings for each other and kissed. This still makes me mad to this day. Sigh.

What about Ready or Not? Did you ever watch this golden Canadian nugget? I always thought the show depicted a realistic friendship between Amanda and Busy. Please tell me I am not alone with my love for this show.

After reminiscing about Flash Forward and Ready or Not, I began to think about other not-so-obvious (e.g. Saved by the Bell, Clarissa Explains it All, Blossom = obvious) television shows that spoke to my 9-12 year-old self.

Like Out of This World. This hot mess of a show was in syndication before I discovered it, but I thought Steve Burton (Jason Quartermaine on General Hospital) was dashing so I put up with the ridiculous plot and quite horrid acting. Did you know that Burt Reynolds was the voice of the father? Thank you Wikipedia for that little factoid. And I must publicly state that looking back, this show is awful. A lot of shows withstand the test of time – Out of This World is not one of them.

And I can’t forget about Kate & Allie. I couldn’t find the opening so we will have to settle for the closing credits. Some people in my family like to joke that I was born 35. My love for Kate & Allie only gives credibility to this observation. But honestly, I think Jane Curtain and Susan Saint James are pretty darn good role models for a 10 year old girl, don’t you? “Just when you think you’re all by yourself, you’re not.”

Alice. I loved Alice. I still love Alice to this day. Yet another show I watched in syndication, I wanted to eat at Mel’s Diner. I wanted to hang out with Flo. And I wanted to punch Tommy, I hated that kid.  Growing up in Phoenix, I thought it was so neat to watch a show that took place where I lived. Granted, Phoenix in the 1970’s was quite different than Phoenix in the 1990’s, but you have to take what you can get. Kiss my grits.

Oh Fifteen. Yet another Canadian teen show that I have nothing but love for. Having watched it in the United States, I knew it as Fifteen, and not as Hillside, like my Canadian counterparts. Long story short – I thought Dylan was a badass, Billy was dreamy (Ryan Reynolds!) and I couldn’t stand Country with her long jean skirts and flowered shirts. Yuck!

And finally, I will end with Welcome Freshman. Because it was awesome.

What television shows did you love during your tween years? Will anyone else admit to watching Out of This World?