On the train last week, a young man asked a question of one of the ticket-takers. The ticket-taker told him to find his supervisor in the next car.
“He’s an older guy. Walks like Fred Sanford.”
“Huh?” The kid didn’t know what he was talking about.
“Just look for an older guy.”
The kid left and the ticket-taker continued down the aisle. A man across from me voiced my exact thought out loud: “Oh man, that kid doesn’t know Sanford and Son.”
The twenty-something young man seated next to him turned from his wife and responded, “What’s Sanford and Son?”
“Are you kidding me? It was a TV show…” the man started to uselessly explain as I turned the volume on my Billy Idol album back up—music from thirty years ago.
An exchange like that makes me feel ancient, but these days, what doesn’t? I actually find it refreshing that television is no longer a common language. Sure, kids may not know about classic sitcoms, but I don’t have to know about modern television, either. American Idol isn’t mandatory. Glee isn’t mandatory.
But in a way, it’s too late for me. My brain is wired for the three-network television era, and my plays reflect that. Menage a Sartre is essentially just a Three’s Company episode with an unearned pedigree. As You Wish directly references one of the all-time classic 60s sitcoms.
So much brainpower dedicated to a moribund medium. Because of this, the message in every one of my plays will be, “Oh man, this audience doesn’t know Sanford and Son.”
Hope you’ll enjoy it! I’m coming, Elizabeth.