Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The evolution of Lifetime TV and the regression of Kirk Cameron...

Back in the 1980s, when cable television was still fairly new, we had some very interesting programs to watch.  The mid 80s saw the birth of the now female friendly network called Lifetime.  Many people recognize Lifetime as a channel for women with lots of women centric television shows and movies about bad men.  But if you were around in the mid 80s, you might remember that Lifetime used to be a health channel.

February 1, 1984 marked the first day of Lifetime TV.  Prior to that, it was known first as Daytime, which was a channel dedicated to "alternative" women's programming.  Then, for about nine months, it was called Cable Health Network.  Then, in November 1983, it was Lifetime Medical Television.  I remember the programming aired on that network was mostly medical stuff... I mean, stuff doctors would be watching.  I remember the channel's logo featured an apple...  an apple a day keeps the viewers away, I guess.

Some of the clips in this video came from Lifetime Medical Television.

Something had to be done...  the new network was losing a lot of money.  Some people even thought it was a religious channel.  That's when Lifetime started its incarnation of what it is today.  It was around 1985 that it started featuring Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the tiny German sex therapist who hosted a call in sex advice show on Lifetime.  Her show was called Good Sex!  With Dr. Ruth Westheimer.  In the 80s, it was cutting edge stuff... scandalous, even.  The tiny woman soon became a huge star.

I don't know why, but for some reason, I thought of Dr. Ruth last night.  It was right before I read a nauseating story about Kirk Cameron, also an 80s icon who underwent a massive makeover (and in his case, not for the better).  Kirk made a statement about how wives are to honor their husbands...

“Wives are to honor and respect and follow their husband’s lead, not to tell their husband how he ought to be a better husband. When each person gets their part right, regardless of how their spouse is treating them, there is hope for real change in their marriage.”

I made the mistake of sharing the story and immediately got a comment from someone wanting me to know about the Bible verse from which this directive comes.  For the record, yes I know that the Bible says women should follow their husbands the way their husbands follow the church.  However, I think many "Christian" men misunderstand or misuse this passage and end up abusing their wives.

Here's Pastor Steven Anderson emoting about how women should be submitting to their husbands.  He and Cameron seem to be cut from the same cloth. 

I'm not so sure Cameron or others like him do a good job of explaining it.  Moreover, my initial comment was more about how Kirk Cameron changed from a goofy, boyish, funny, likable guy to a religious zealot.  He probably could use some advice from Dr. Ruth.

Dr. Ruth's show was saucy!  Even in the 80s, she had progressive ideas about homosexuality.

I didn't watch Dr. Ruth's show because it aired at 10:00pm and I was about 12 or 13 years old.  Although my parents probably would neither have noticed nor cared that I was watching her program, at that age I found it boring viewing.  Most talk shows that would probably fascinate me today were dull when I was much younger.  I couldn't be bothered to sit and listen to anyone who wasn't a musician.  However, she did become very famous when her show was on Lifetime.  I think she and Regis Philbin helped put the then fledgeling cable channel on the map.

Here, Dr. Ruth counsels Richard Lewis, whom I well remember as Rabbi Glass on 7th Heaven.  God, he looks so young!  

For some reason, I used to love to imitate Dr. Ruth's voice.  It's so distinctive.    

This poor guy is a 21 year old virgin.  I was a 30 year old virgin, so I can relate to his angst.  He seems kind of sweet, though.  It was brave of him to be on Dr. Ruth's show.  I hope he has since gotten laid.

Dr. Ruth was born in 1928, which makes her quite elderly.  She still has a channel on YouTube and, if she's the one who is actually running it, appears to have a pretty good sense of humor.  I notice she favorited one of Robin Williams' routines about her.

Bwahahahaaha!  This is pretty damn hilarious.

Anyway, I can't help but miss the good old days sometimes.  Sure, the Internet is great and television has even become somewhat obsolete.  But I do miss some of the stuff that made it on the airwaves back in the day.  Lifetime and other cable channels like Nickelodeon used to be fun to watch.  Then they kind of evolved into crap... but then, that's kind of the way of the world.  Radio used to be cool, too.  


  1. And I was a 36-year-old virgin.

    The Internet and Yahoo chat rooms changed all that, though.

  2. I find Kirk Cameron to be somewhat of an ass. He repeatedly tried to change plots and lines on "Growing Pains" because a Christian would not behave in the manner the writers had asked him to act when his character had always pretty much been a little shit. It was freaking fiction. What if he made a movie of the Bible and played the part of Judas? Would he refuse to sell Jesus out because the act might have been considered un-Christian?

    I always thought Dr. Ruth was cute. I didn't know her parents were Holocaust victims and what a rough early life she had. My mom claims to have been a counselor-in-training at a summer camp in which one of Dr. Ruth's grandchildren was in attendance. She said the kid was obnoxious and looked like Dr. Ruth without as much inherent cuteness.

    My favorite sex therapist was that Sue Johanson lady because she looked like someone's great-grandmother if they actually had one (I never did), but would sit there fiddling with sex toys at the end of her show as though it was the most normal thing in the world for a person of her age to be doing.

    My brother was a Dr. Drew fan. He listened to him on the radio every night as he went to sleep. He probably didn't get much sleep. If my brother ever writes his memoir, I will insist that he call the volume "EVERYTHING I EVER LEARNED ABOUT SEX I LEARNED FROM DR. DREW."

    Regardless, I think we have to give Dr. Ruth her proper respect for being the one to have brought the discussion of sex into the mainstream.

    1. Dr. Ruth was funny in those days. She had that squeaky voice that was so distinctive. I've never watched Dr. Drew.

      I did used to watch Kirk Cameron on Growing Pains. When I was growing up, TV was everything. I was so sad when he turned into a religious nut, although unlike a lot of my peers, I never thought he was particularly cute.

    2. Before his character went "good," Matthew and I were the twin version of Mike and Carol Seaver. I watched the reruns and totally identified. I viewed him as like my brother, so of course I didn't think he was all that cute, either. Had they all been from my era, Michael J. Fox would have been more my type.

  3. I forgot to mention that I was banned from computer use for a year. I had an entire academic year of researching the old way, which wasn't all that bad; libraries still had periodicals and quite a few books, and I mostly didn't have to use microfiche.

    What was really bad was typing research papers on a typewriter. We at least used parenthetical documentation for both MLA and APA for the most part, which is a lot easier than footnotes at the bottom of a page, but it was still hell. Some teachers wouldn't allow any correction fluid or tape (everyone else was typing theirs on computer and didn't need to use it, so why should I be allowed to?) and were real bitches about it. Most were OK, though, and appreciated that I was doing my papers essentially the way they did theirs, which is something most of my classmates would have never experienced except that one teacher got the bright idea from my computer ban to require a ten-page research paper typed old-style with footnotes at the bottom of each page. Fortunately she never told anyone that I was the inspiration or I probably would have been beaten up for it.

    I really think every college prep or college student should have to type a term paper on a typewriter (I know typewriters are hard to find, but it can be done) with annotations at the bottom of the page. No one has any idea how easy we all have it now unless they've done it the old way.

    I do think its funny that plagiarism was initially made easy with the Internet but now is damned near impossible because of that same tool. The only safe way to turn in a paper you didn't write yourself is to purchase it from someone you can REALLY trust. I never minded writing that much so it wasn't an issue for me, but for those who are lazy, I wonder who they would trust THAT much?

    1. I typed many a paper on a typewriter.


Comments on older posts will be moderated.