The Antlers’ Peter J. Silberman

on TGIF

Aug 03, 2010 Issue #32 - Summer 2010 - Wasted on the Youth
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When I was six years old, Friday night was important. I hadn't yet made an enemy of school, I wasn't going out and staying out late, and there wasn't anything so oppressive about the week that necessitated the weekend. Nevertheless, the excitement of its onset was unmatched. Saturday was a day of freedom (or unfortunate soccer practice), but Friday night was home to an unrivaled night of television on ABC, the infamous TGIF—a two-hour block of back-to-back 30-minute programs that defined early '90s television, and is largely responsible for my childhood hatred of President George H.W. Bush.

I can't recall all four of the shows included in that year's TGIF (it must have been 1991 or 1992). My research has been inconclusive, after attempting to align a particular year's lineup with the end of The Gulf War, the reason for which I assume President Bush found it necessary to interrupt my regularly scheduled programming. The disruption occurred early in the evening. Family Matters had ended, and Step by Step had just begun (I preferred the latter to the former; in retrospect, they're both awful). I'm fairly sure that Dinosaurs, the brief, yet beloved, live-action dinosaur-family sitcom, was to follow. But what I expected to be a quick interruption ran for an hour and a half, approaching the length of a State of the Union address, and spanning the remainder of TGIF. Perhaps he was announcing U.S. withdrawal from the conflict region, or the massive ground assault that had occurred prior, but this wasn't important to me. I was six years old. The president was ruining my Friday night, and he needed to know that.

In inevitably bad handwriting, I set out to write him a letter. Throughout the course of this diatribe, the President would learn that he was "stupid" and "the worst president ever," that his speech was "so boring" and paled in comparison to Patrick Duffy's family-weary quips on Step by Step. I was young, and this was likely one of the first letters I had ever written to anybody, but I think I effectively voiced my unforgiving disapproval. I signed my full name and stuffed the envelope. I can't say for sure whether or not he ever received my letter. I imagine it was most likely addressed to "George Bush / The White House / Washington, D.C.," and was probably left in my family's mailbox without a stamp. 

But I can't be certain he didn't read it. Not long after this letter was written, President George H.W. Bush lost his bid for re-election against a young Bill Clinton and I can't help but think there must have been some correlation between this loss, and the fallout and backlash that resulted from interrupting TGIF—the consequence of ruining so many young Americans' favorite night of television.



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Samantha from Austin
January 6th 2013
4:40am

My god, Mr. Silberman is one eloquent writer. Really nice guy, too.