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Aug 13 2014

I Never Thought I’d Let My Son Watch TV–Until Now

By at 3:25 pm


I love television. I always have. I love to talk about TV with friends, I love to rewatch shows I haven’t seen in years, and now with services like Hulu and Netflix, I love catching up on shows I missed the first time around. I don’t usually have much time for TV, but while recovering from a C-section this past February, I watched almost the whole 10-year run of “How I Met Your Mother” while caring for my newborn. Hundreds of episodes, probably.

I can’t believe I just told you all that. Because I love TV, but boy, do I feel guilty about it. Whenever I am watching, I always feel that I should be working, or cleaning the house, or exercising, or pre-cooking healthy meals for my family to be pulled out of the freezer at a moment’s notice, or, or, or… you get the idea.

For better and for worse, I have used TV as a method of self-care, distraction, and procrastination for decades. It’s not as destructive as drugs or gambling, I know, but it isn’t exactly virtuous either. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 25 2012

Would You Compete On A Show Called Jewish Mum of the Year?

By at 3:40 pm

world's best mum trophyI have complicated feelings about reality TV. On the one hand, I love me some 19 Kids and Counting, not to mention Top Chef.

On the other hand, I am fully aware that the shows are miles from reality, and that watching these shows is enabling deeply messed up people to get even more messed up as viewers judge them based on creative editing and producing designed to make everyone look like a horrible person. People seem to go on TV thinking it will change their lives for the better, and while that is sometimes the outcome, it seems far more common that things get worse, with the added scrutiny of millions of eyeballs. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 30 2012

Up All Night with the Jewish Elvis

By at 11:24 am

henry winkler maya rudolph up all nightI’m not the only one who loves the TV show “Up All Night,” right? Starring Christina Applegate and Will Arnett as, basically, more successful and with-it versions of me and my husband, and probably yours, too?

Oh, cut it out. Don’t pretend you don’t own a TV. We’re all hanging around this site hoping Blossom will actually talk to us. We’re sad little pop-culture addicts, and that’s okay.

But just in case you haven’t watched the show… it’s hilarious. The first episode featured a one-upping argument between the main characters, in which each one claimed to have been up with the baby more, and later, and longer. It was so familiar and true, it made me cringe with recognition (and flushed with a grateful feeling of not being alone in this). Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 20 2012

Positive Girl Role Models (Who Can Fly)

By at 1:37 pm

I seriously suspect the reason I had kids was so that I didn’t have to feel like I was the only one in the room reading comic books and hoping we get to have pizza for dinner every night. I’ve gotten toughened up on the pizza front, but comics are still close to my heart. And I am so freaking happy that Super Best Friends Forever now exists–that it’s about superheroes who are giddy and good-natured and a little bit snarky, and are Positive Girl Role Models that my daughters can get down with.

A few months ago, DC Nation, the animated wing of DC Comics, put out a call for proposals for new DC animated adaptations. One of the people who replied was Lauren Faust, a former producer on Powerpuff Girls and the creator of the unnervingly popular new My Little Pony series. The first brief episode, which you just watched (what? you didn’t? go back and watch it like now) was just posted two days ago.

Once I interviewed Matisyahu and he sort of admitted that his favorite part of parenting was watching Kung-Fu Panda with his kids so that he gets to watch it himself. I kind of feel the same way about Super Best Friends.

And can I just say how TOTALLY AWESOME it is that Batgirl is a short and skinny little stick and Supergirl is a little chubby? I mean, it doesn’t negate 53 years of creepily inappropriate outfits, but it’s good to know they’re headed in the right direction. (And as a former drastically underweight kid who was faced with images of He-Man all over the place, it’s nice to know that superheroes can be scrawny, too.)

And, hey, there’s some inappropriate stuff for kids in the Torah, too, but does that mean I’m confiscating their Dovid the Little Shepherd Boy books? NO WAY. Super best friends forever!

Mar 13 2012

Interviews with Interesting Dudes: Marc Weiner

By at 10:17 am

marc weinerIf you ever found yourself watching Nickelodeon in the 90s, you may remember an awesome, puppet-filled show called Weinerville. If you ever find yourself watching Nick Jr. these days, you’ll hear the Weinerville star and creator, Marc Weiner, as the voice of Map and Swiper the Fox in Dora the Explorer. We sat down with the comedian and father of three to talk about Pete Seeger, embarrassing dads, and the Jewish heritage of Map.

Growing up, did your kids think it was awesome that you were on TV, or were they embarrassed of their dad, just like everybody else?

Yes both.

Do you think that Jewish people are inherently funnier than the average Joe? Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 15 2012

Following Through with Threats, and Feeling Guilty

By at 10:09 am

shrekUntil recently, my husband worked nights, so I was on my own for the girls’ bedtimes. What I worked out was this: Penny watches about a half hour of TV while I put Abby down, then Penny and I lay down and read and she falls asleep. Judge me not, ye women of only kids: you, too, will pray to the demon-god television when you’ve got two toddlers.

Anyway, the other day, Penny was really acting up. I knew she was just kind of worn out and frazzled after a too-active day, but Abby was very, very tired and having trouble falling asleep. I needed her room silent and dark, just for a quick 10 minutes. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 17 2012

From Sesame Street to Say Yes to the Dress

By at 9:56 am
sesame street characters

Hello, old friends.

I love to read and I average three literary novels a month. But I also admit, without shame, to loving TV. And except for Modern Family, now that Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire are off the air for the season, there is just not that much to watch.

Except the really dumb shows. Which I love. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 18 2011

When Mom Is Too Sick To Be Mom

By at 11:33 am

My daughter makes fun of my inhaler!

For the past few weeks, I have been battling bronchitis. If the incessant coughing weren’t enough, I have developed tendinitis of the ribs because of it. The first wave of medicine abated but didn’t cure it. Now I am on two inhalers and a codeine pill to sleep at night. But my daughter doesn’t care about any of that.

Case in point: Ellie wanted me to carry her for 90 minutes straight at the zoo today. Somehow, my explanation didn’t fly. I can’t imagine what she didn’t get about, “Mommy has an ouch that makes it feel like 10 zillion knives are stabbing me in the chest and back every time I breathe, so it would be really great if you could walk just a little bit.” To add insult to injury, she thinks it’s hilarious when I take puffs off the inhalers.

My editors and my managers at the gyms where I teach group cycling classes understand that I’ve been under the weather. But my toughest boss, Ellie, is having none of it.

So how do you mother when it feels like 10 zillion knives are stabbing you in the chest and back every time you breathe? How do you get it across to an almost-2-year-old that Mommy needs a time out?

The answers I have come up with are two-fold. One the American Academy of Pediatrics wouldn’t like, but the other balances it out. First, I let Ellie watch TV. No, not “Law & Order” or “Sex & the City” reruns. She loves “Yo Gabba Gabba” and “Sesame Street” so instead of watching just some clips, I confess to letting her watch a full episode or two, as prescribed by my pain level. I sit and watch with her and we interact about what’s going on, but I don’t have to chase her around or carry her anywhere, and the less physical I have to be, the less I cough. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 1 2011

Too Busy For Book Club: Unplugging Our Children

By at 2:49 pm

Finally, Too Busy For Book Club is here! Read a note from Dawn Siff about our new club. Every week, in this space, we’ll find a topic relevant to you. And we want to hear your thoughts.

There’s been a lot in the news recently about screen-time and children. First the American Academy of Pediatrics urged parents to turn off the TV, especially for children under 2. And then, a New York Times article noted that “screen time” for children is higher than ever before.

What do I think about all this?

I use the TV to distract my 11-month-old son, Zeke, so I can cut his nails. Another friend watches the “baby sign” videos with her 15-month-old and he really signs a lot of things, so how could it have “no benefit?” I think we probably aren’t the group that pediatricians are concerned about. But what I did find interesting is the point about TV as background noise and in houses where it’s on all day, you are not talking as much, obviously crucial with an “under-2” in the house.

The second article, I think, should be more troubling to my demographic: educated, upwardly mobile ivy league types who, to borrow a phrase made up by my advertising friend, have a very high SSQ (self satisfied quotient). Oh, we all think we’re such model parents because our children don’t watch television (God forbid!) but we are tapping away on the iPad and so are they.

I try to keep my iPhone away from Zeke, I don’t show him the screen, and we have dodged grandparent requests for Skype appointments (come visit instead), but he sees me on the computer throughout the day. He sees me tapping away on the iPhone, and let’s be honest: I’m doing it while I’m feeding him, while I’m pushing him in the swing, while I’m walking him down the street. When he was a new-newborn, I used to check my email while nursing. My husband said to me once, “On some level he knows you’re not paying him full attention.” It’s true. And children model our behavior, so what am I teaching him by tap, tapping away when I should be living life?

Your turn. Plug in and weigh in!

Jul 18 2011

Lady Jews on TV: The Message to My Girls

By at 3:30 pm

Reva and Annie on Covert Operations

I love TV, specifically police procedurals, action shows, and anything that reminds me of MacGyver (shout out to Mayim here—she was a guest star on 3 episodes back in the late 80’s).

Many of my favorite shows are on USA, including Covert Affairs. For those of you who aren’t familiar, it’s your basic, predictable, highly entertaining spy show about Annie Walker, a young spy who is skinny, blonde, and speaks about 8 different languages (including Hebrew).  She goes on missions around the world, protecting assets and defusing bombs for the CIA.

This season the show introduced a new character, a young tech-ops specialist named Reva Klein. Although they haven’t made explicit mention of her Jewishness, her name is a pretty good giveaway. She’s skinny and beautiful, but with dark hair (of course). She’s incredibly book smart, but she’s also socially awkward, anxious, uncomfortable out in the field, and unable to tell which wild berries are poisonous and which are safe. Reva’s the one who fell and broke her leg somewhere along the border between Poland and Belarus. Good thing she had the blonde shiksa there to feed her the safe berries and carry her to safety. (Also, Reva was a varsity swimmer at USC. Of course. A Jew who can swim, but can’t survive in the forest. What a shocker.)

Reva’s not the only stereotypical Jew on the show. Eyal Lavin is a swarthy Mossad agent who shows up from time to time, usually to save Annie’s butt. He’s strong and sexy and more than competent, but also devious and completely self-interested.  (He reminds me a bit of Eric Bana’s character in Munich.) Read the rest of this entry →


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