So, earlier today I was making lunch and as I stirred the Target brand mac and cheese, found myself humming "I Was Country (When Country Wasn't Cool) by Barbara Mandrell and then I was like "SELF, WHY THE HELL ARE YOU SINGING THIS SONG, considering not only my searing hatred for country music but because we are on a near constant stream of k-pop up in here and that stuff stays in your head like an unwelcome ear worm from Kahn so how this popped up I don't know. I was trying to remember how I even knew this song and then I remembered that Barbara and her two sisters (Louise and Other Mandrell) had some ridiculous variety show on in the 80s that I used to watch with my grandma. Now, sometimes Jeff will be watching Saw Dogs, which is a show about people who carve shit out of wood with chainsaws and I'm not kidding at all, and I will say "you know, they will make a show about any goddamn thing these days. ANYTHING. Saw Dogs? What's next? Extreme Napkin Swans?" and then he will remind me that there is also a show called Hillbilly Handfishin' and then I just sigh and make a comment about the world going down the toilet and then I go on my lawn and yell at passing children to stay off.
Seriously though, as I thought about the Mandrell Variety Hour or whatever fresh hell they named it, I started thinking about all the other dumb shows I watched in the 80s. Back then I was a typical latchkey kid so I watched a lot of TV before and after school which is why I can't stand new parents who are all "my child cannot watch even 7 seconds of tv or else he will melt into a pile of goo and I will look like a terrible parent (because it's really about ME isn't it?) and he will never learn math or any other useful skill." Look, I watched a ton of TV back in the day because our parents weren't so up our asses and actually had lives and didn't worry about every little second of our childhood being filled with "learning moments" so TV wasn't the devil. Case in point, I'm a pretty smart lady with a wide range of skillz and a brain only half made of goo. In fact, the day we got cable was a momentous occasion because not only did we get MTV, but the cable people actually came to your house then and we got little metal buttons that said "MTV" on them that we could pin to our jackets as souvenirs and to show people that we had cable SO SUCK IT, non-cable havers. Anyway, these are some of the weird and wonderful shows I watched while eating my Jell-O Pudding Pops (bring them back, Jell-O. I'm serious. They were delicious and nothing compares.)
Dance Party USA - this was on USA Network (duh) and we watched it after school before Jem. It was like American Bandstand but way less classy and with more chicks dressing up like Prince and Madonna. Also it was from Philly so I thought they had foreign accents.
Small Wonder - Vicki the Robot. That is all.
Out Of This World - Evie, the half alien half human teen who could stop time with her fingers. Her mom was a mayor or something and her alien dad lived in a glowing box by her bed and would talk to her from his alien land.
Battle of the Network Stars - bizarre "sports" competition show with TV stars who played for their network team in many forms of spandex. This was serious business, we're talking the top stars of TV here, and we would watch and root for our favorites like it was the Olympics. I vividly remember Charlene Tilton in her shorty shorts and braids. Run Lucy Ewing, run!
Dance Fever/Solid Gold - I put these together because they were on together and I adored every disco filled second. Also, Madame. (Somewhere lodged in the back of my brain is a memory of a Dance Fever episode but with giant puppets instead of people. However, this may be a hallucination but I'm pretty sure it happened.)
Benny Hill/Bizarre - I put these together too because they were on waaaay late at night (like 11pm!) and might have shown boobs. We weren't really supposed to watch either of them.
You Can't Do That On Television - my first introduction to the exotic people known as Canadians and the best show on at the time. Except the old man used to gross me out.
Out Of Control - Cut. It. Out.
That's Incredible! - Yes, it was.
Anyway, feel free to add more in the comments. I could list this all day but I don't have that kind of time. I have to go watch Bizarre Foods.
UPDATE: So, as I've gotten more suggestions from facebook and my brain here is another list with the biggies added:
It's A Living
The Facts of Life
The Golden Girls (which remains TO THIS DAY my favorite show of all time and I watch it regularly and I have seen every episode including the pilot with the gay male housekeeper.)
The Sunday night Disney movies
Wrestling at the Chase
Kate & Allie
Who's The Boss?
The Cosby Show
I'm sure I missed many, many others.