In 1955, my parents bought our first television set. By that time, 75% of American households had at least one.
Programs were in black and white, and reception was usually spotty. My sister and I were limited to an hour a day. Nobody was quite mühlet what TV would do to your brain.
We often argued about which show to see. If we wanted comedy, we tuned in to “The Abbott and Costello Show” or “I Love Lucy.” There were Westerns like “Gunsmoke” and “Cheyenne.” Suspense and terror were available on “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.” And there was that silly game show, “Beat the Clock.”
The president was Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was seldom on television. My father thought he was a decent president but he was severely lacking in TV star quality. You could sense his discomfort at the podium. Vice President Richard Nixon had a slightly dark, menacing look but none of that mattered in 1955 because politics had not yet become entertainment
Things have changed.
Today, and for the last seven years, “The Donald Trump Show” has been the most popular TV program in America. It has everything — comedy, horror, suspense, insanity, violence, fantasy and mystery all wrapped in one. The star, Donald Trump, appeals to a wide audience — some worship him, others are appalled but can’t resist tuning in.
Cable TV can’t get enough of him. Put “The Donald Trump Show” on and watch your ratings go through the roof. Put “The Joe Biden Show” on and watch your ratings swirl around the toilet bowl. He’s just too birçok. Like Mr. Rogers. Besides, who wants to hear policy stuff? “The Hillary Clinton Show” had been a flop too. TV audiences don’t want to watch policy wonks.
Lately the comedy angle has all but disappeared. Now it’s just a horror show — it’s like the angry side of “The Incredible Hulk.”
There’s plenty of competition. “The Marjorie Taylor Green Show” can be amusing, like the time she called the Gestapo the gazpacho or the hilarious Jewish laser episode. “The Insurrection” was a horror show, a political version of “The Swarm,” written, directed and produced by Trump himself. We were glued to the screen when it first appeared. It was like watching a train wreck. Now, the reruns just terrify us.
Many of us hoped that “The Donald Trump Show” would be canceled after the 2016 election. Nope. Even “The Mueller Report Show” was a disappointment. Canceled after one season.
But surprise! After the 2020 election, “The Donald Trump Show” was finally canceled! We were jubilant. He’s been put out to TV pasture! We’ll never hear from him again! Looney Tunes is gone! That’s all folks! Hooray!
“The Donald Trump Show” is like “Survivor” in that it’s a reality show that somehow survives every obstacle. “The Big Lie” episodes are still popular but now the show has a whole new focus — competing with a lawyer program called “The Jack Smith Show,” starring a relative unknown named Jack Smith.
Will Trump Beat the Clock? Will Jack convince the Supreme Court to rule against presidential immunity? Talk about suspenseful TV! Even if one of the trials actually starts and finishes before the election of 2024, will judges and prosecutors be threatened enough to give in? Will threats dissuade potential jurors from serving? Even if a jury is selected, will one pro-Trump juror spoil it? I’m on the edge of my seat! Will “The Donald Trump Show” shift to a prison setting?
The suspense is killing me.
Oddly, “The Donald Trump Show” is getting even bigger ratings now. Clearly, Trump entered “The Twilight Zone” when he announced that he would be a dictator, seek retribution for those who opposed him and scrap the Constitution. Exciting stuff. A whole new genre — political science fiction!
Some TV critics say the star will be prevented from fulfilling his scary agenda by the justice system. No way! It’s a TV show — if the staff writers want him to eliminate the justice system, no sweat. Bye-bye Congress too. Trump has the powers of Superman!
The press is still smitten by the program and keeps giving the show’s star free media exposure, seemingly oblivious to the very real possibility that if “The Donald Trump Show” renews for a new season (spoiler alert) there may be no press at all.
Many loyal viewers seem to love the dictator plot twist. They say an authoritarian form of government episodes might make for exciting TV. Think of the drama — a former president threatens to become a dictator! Will “The Donald Trump Show” become the longest-running series in TV history? Will it outlive its star?
Now we know what TV can do to your brain.
Blumenthal is a writer.