Cherishing my family’s television tradition
Television sitcoms are linked to the deepest memories of my childhood.
They make me laugh, they make me cry, and they make me think about my family. I don’t know how it started, but when I was growing up my family routinely got together on various nights of the week to watch a different show and cast of characters.
It was like an unspoken ritual that just happened. Monday was How I Met Your Mother night, Wednesday was reserved for The Goldbergs, and each Thursday evening my family would gather in the living room to watch the shenanigans of Sheldon Cooper and his nerdy (but lovable) crew in The Big Bang Theory.
It was this structure that gave me — a perfectionist child who longed for routines — comfort. I cherished the fact that I could count on my father, mother, and sister being on the couch at 5:30 on Monday nights to watch How I Met Your Mother. It didn’t matter how great, or how shitty, my day at school was for those 30 minutes. If I failed a math or physics test — which happened an embarrassingly frequent amount of times — I could snuggle up to my mom and feel the worries from my test melt away as she threw her arms around me.
As my family grew up, however, the absence of our television routine left a gaping hole in my heart. Within two years of each other, my sister and I graduated high school and moved to opposite ends of the country for university. So, instead of being separated by four feet on Monday nights, there is a near four thousand-kilometre gap between us every evening.
Before I left for university, my father bought my family a four-person Netflix subscription — in hopes of continuing our nightly routine. And whenever I come home for Christmas, reading break, or for a week in the summer, I can’t wait for my sister or mom to fire up the television and binge-watch a sitcom they started watching while I was gone.
For example, two years ago my sister got me hooked on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and this past summer I returned the favour by getting her addicted to The Office.
But four years later, whenever I log in to Netflix and see our four names spread across the registration screen, I can’t help but feel a tinge of nostalgia mixed with sadness. It makes me realize that the days of me shouting, “Dad! Get out of the bathroom, How I Met Your Mother is on!” in high school are long gone.
Whenever there was a funny one-liner or hilarious scene in our favourite shows, I used to look to my right across the couch and laugh simultaneously with my dad. On the nights when I watch alone, hundreds of kilometres from my family, and something funny pops on the screen I still look to my right for my dad. I know he lives far away from me, but I can’t shake something I grew up doing for years and years.
When I was younger, I dreamed of being in a sitcom. Specifically, laughing with a group of friends at a regular booth like how the characters in How I Met Your Mother always meet at MacLauren’s pub or how Joey, Rachel, Ross, Phoebe, Chandler, and Monica get together at the Central Perk café in Friends. I wanted friends who I could count on to be at a specific place, and a family who never failed to hop on the couch and watch Barney Stinson say some corny pickup line.
Oftentimes, the group on my computer screen turns into that group of friends that I can consistently rely on to be at a specific location for me. I know that when I open Netflix before I go to bed, they’ll be there for me to forget about projects or assignments, like my family used to on the couch on Mondays at 5:30.
Everyone has a friend like Barney Stinson or a couple they know that are so perfect together like Jim and Pam. The characters and situations are so relatable to our everyday lives, and that’s why I think television sitcoms are so special, and how this obscure family tradition started.
The characters I consider my friends make me laugh, cry, and help me get through those hard nights alone wishing my family members were by my side sitting on the same couch, under the same roof, again. And when I think of all the looming deadlines and assignments before the semester is over, I think ahead to the end of the month when my sister will try to get me hooked on the latest show she’s watched.