Events around my house this week have inspired an idea for a new reality show: The 1960s House.
First our air conditioning compressor went kaput. Life in our hermetically sealed environment was disturbed. We had to (gasp) open the windows and use electric fans in the bedrooms to sleep at night. Luckily the summer weather was mild because as it was, my kids sweated as if they had worked on a chain gang all day.
Then the unthinkable happened. Our power was shut off for an entire day. Having no a/c and now no TV were bad enough. But no WiFi? We walked around like zombies with no purpose and no live humans to eat. I even spied my son on the couch dejectedly reading a paperback book!
This gave me the idea for the show. You may remember a short-lived reality show called The 1900 House. In it a family attempts to live as if it were the turn of the century, a time of butter churning and driving a horse and buggy. The show was not a huge hit, maybe because harking all the way back to 1900 was too far.
Enter The 1960s House. I’m picturing a contest format in which participants are forced to complete such challenges as looking up a phone number in a phone book, dialing it on a rotary phone, and then having a private conversation in the family kitchen, where the phone is bolted to the wall with a skimpy cord and there’s nowhere to hide.
Then contestants could take turns in the “change the channel” relay, where they would be timed getting off the couch to switch the TV to one of the other two networks. They would then have to endure the grueling “watching the commercials” test, as well as attempt to make popcorn on the stove by shaking a pan full of kernels and oil over the heating element.
Of course, this segment would have to be preceded by a vocabulary lesson in which participants learned that pause means “temporarily stop what one is doing,” play means “go outside and swing on the swing set,” and fast forward refers to NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (or, as we knew him back in the old days, Lew Alcindor).
We could add quaint historical elements to the environment, such as the milkman delivering glass bottles of the creamy stuff to the door and the Good Humor man driving his truck through the neighborhood without anyone worrying that he was a creepy pedophile.
There could also be moments of high drama on The 1960s House. For instance, the adults would lose all contact with the kids for hours when they rode their bikes downtown or to the park without cell phones. In the house, the phone could ring, and no one would know who was on the other end.
Yes, I can imagine many interesting experiences for the members of The 1960s House: the percolator brewing the coffee, a solitaire game with real cards, a stack of 45s and a record player. In fact, it might be a good show for my family to watch – that is, if the power ever goes back on.