Monday, April 16, 2012

What I Learned about Boys from 70's Sitcoms

I don’t think it’s a secret to anyone who knows me that I am a pink-wearin’, princess lovin’ girly-girl. So when it comes to the topic of ‘Friends who Happen to be Boys,’ I don’t have a ton of personal experience. Sure, I played tag with boys on the playground in elementary school, went fishing with the boy next door, and jumped out of haylofts with my cousins. (I could never quite muster up the courage to ride a cow, though—they’re way stinky!) But as I grew older, boys became more and more of a mystery.

As a teen, I was the girl who the boys wanted to protect or date, or both, not the one they called in the middle of the night to pick them up after they drank too much. Sure, I had ‘friends’ that were boys, but they weren’t deep friendships. Once I hit my pre-teens, these once fun and simple relationships became muddled with hormones and awkward curiosity. Suddenly boys were like a different species.  And I had no idea how to communicate.

So, I turned to the ultimate authority and councilor in a teen’s life…television. I figured that if I couldn’t understand boys, I could learn about them from watching my favorite shows. Like Mork & Mindie – Classic story of girl befriending an alien and then falling in love with him.

What did I learn from this? Friendships (even with boys of a different species) ended in true love.

But this topic was much too important to jump to conclusions based on one clearly improbable sitcom. Further research was most definitely in order. So for my next lesson in male-female relationships, I turned to another favorite show—Three’s Company. Surely if there was ever a perfect case study in opposite sex friendships, it was a show about a boy with two girl roommates!

But it seemed Jack was alternately in love with Janet, Chrissy, and all his subsequent blond roommates. The plot of almost every episode revolved around Jack flirting with his two girl ‘friends’ and his elaborate strategies to get them to sleep with him—or at least see them naked.

As an impressionable pre-teen girl, I learned that boys only want one thing, and it wasn’t platonic, tell-each-other-all-our-secrets friendship.  

Even my favorite childhood show, Happy Days, resulted in two childhood buddies spinning off into their own sitcom called…yep, you guessed it, Joanie Loves Chachi.

Okay, I admit it, I’d been gunning for those two to end up together since Chachi said his first “Wah wah waah!” But I think you get the picture. It was firmly imbedded in my mind that friendship with a boy resulted in…well, more than friendship.

Which being the ever-cautious girl that I was, caused me to keep my emotional and physical distance from the boys in my circle of friends. I tended to lump every male, non-relative in my life into two categories: Boyfriend material and NOT Boyfriend material. If they were not boyfriend material, I kept them at an inflexible distance. Which is kind of judgmental and sad.

As I write this blog, my two sons are outside playing with the neighbor girl who they both claim is their “best friend.” I’m tempted to warn them that since she just turned twelve, it won’t be long before she abandons fort building and insect-collecting, for pedicures and boy-chasing—but I won’t. Because I would love to see their friendship evolve as they mature and become a safe place for them to land as they navigate the choppy waters of the teen years.

And if someday, one of them decides to ask her on a date, I’d be cool with that too. J

How about you? What shows, books or experiences shaped your perception of boy-girl friendship?



Melissa Landers said...

Great post, Lorie! I think many of us can relate. So many shows conditioned us to believe that boy-girl friendships were destined to become more.

And I haven't thought of Mork & Mindy in ages! What a blast from the past!

Lorie Langdon said...

Thanks Mel!
I think shows today are even worse. Not only do the boy-girl friendships turn into romance, but then they date their boyfriends best buddy and somehow stay besties with the first boy. Pretty unrealistic if you ask me. ;-)

Kimberly said...

I left a comment a while ago, but apparently it didn't post. Grrrrrr.
I am one of those television viewers who always pulls for the friends to become more. I think it's because they have a shared history and background, so there's more to talk about. It's nice to laugh with someone about a funny memory and talk about something that happened that affected both people. There's nothing worse than sitting with someone in that uncomfortable, awkward, hormone-riddled silence...that's when hands start roaming where they shouldn't. Because they're bored. LOL.
I think it's great that your boys are friends with the neighborhood girl, and you're probably right. One of them will eventually try to take it to the next level. And that's good. In my opinion. You know her. She knows you. There's none of that "scoping out" business. I hated that! When my mom and stepdad would scope out the boy. Grill him about his family...his grades...his INTENTIONS. God! I just wanted to crawl under the table in a fetal position.
Thanks for a fun post! Looking at all those old shows made me feel ancient. LOL. But, oh, what memories of watching them. Had to love Jack Tripper for always trying to take everything to the next level. :-)

Lorie Langdon said...

I knew I was aging myself by writing a post about 70’s sitcoms, but I decided to own it. LOL!
I also love the stories where friends become more. I just wish I hadn’t been so guarded with boys in my teen years. I don’t believe they’re all Jack Tripper’s. ;-)

Jo Ramsey said...

I think opposite gender friendships in TV, books, and movies (or same-gender friendships, depending on the sexuality of the characters) are more likely to result in happily-ever-afters than in real life, but I like it when it happens in fiction. Unless it's completely obvious that the writer(s) are only putting the characters together to prove that boys and girls can't be friends with each other...

Lorie Langdon said...

I agree Jo. I love friends turned true-loves stories. But I think even if you start out friends you need that initial attraction to make a relationship work long term. :)

Catherine Castle said...

You hit some of my favorite TV shows. I loved Mork and MIndy. Never missed an epsisode and I wasn't a teen when it played. Friendship is so important in a relationship--maybe even more than romance because you have to like that man you're going to live with for the rest of your life. I know I do mine and we've been together for 42 years now.
Great post!

Catherine Hershberger, writing as Catherine Castle

Lorie Langdon said...

Catherine - Wow! 42 years is fantastic! I agree that you need to be friends with your mate. My hubby is one of my best friends, but we weren't friends when we started dating. I guess it can work both ways. :o)
Thanks for stopping by!

J.S. Walker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J.S. Walker said...

I would have to agree Lorie. It seems like today you can't even watch a sitcom or even a drama without one of the female and male characters in the group falling for each other. It paints kind of an unrealistic picture and I can remember watching my favorite shows as a kid and watching the lead female finally fall for her best friend and thinking that that's the kind of relationship I want. Not that it doesn't happen in real life, but it does leave you searching for something you might never get.

Lorie Langdon said...

Thanks for stopping by J.S.! I kinda wish real life could be as easy as fiction...maybe that's partly why I write romance, but life rarely imitates art. ;o)

Tonya Kappes said...

I loved growing up in the 70's. Definitely Mork from Ork!

Lorie Langdon said...

Tonya, I loved growing up in the
70's too! I miss terry cloth short-shorts and rainbow leg-warmers. ;-)

Kimberly said...

I loved growing up in the 70s too! Don't forget the feathered hair, the terry cloth halter tops, and the comb in the back pocket. Why doesn't anybody every carry a comb anymore? LOL.

OldDogNewTits said...

You should've taken your cues from the Bradys. Six kids who were forced to pretend they were blood siblings living under the same roof with three perfectly-matched pairs all going through puberty simultaneously. Now THAT'S dedication.

Lorie Langdon said...

Yep, the Brady's are a good virtuous example, but in my mind, they were family -- WAY taboo! ;-)