DEBORAH CROMBIE: I don't watch sitcoms.
I don't mean that in a judgmental way. I grew up with The Dick Van Dyke Show. It was my parents' favorite show, and that was THE TV night in our house. (I think my dad was more than a little in love with Mary Tyler Moore...) Dinner on TV tables (remember those, anyone?) in the den. And I loved it.
But then, sometime in my teens, I discovered British comedy on public television, and that was it for American sitcoms. All in the Family--nope. Frazier--nope. Drew Carey--nope. (I didn't know about Craig Ferguson then...my equivalent of my dad's crush on MTM.) Not even The Office for more than part of an episode or two. This is probably some great cultural failure on my part, and it certainly has left me out at the water cooler, but I just never seem able to stay interested. I'm too plot driven, maybe, or I just like my humor either sillier or drier.
But I really like Michael J. Fox, so last week I tuned in to an episode of his new show.
It was sweet, and funny, but I thought I'd stepped into a time warp. At least half the scenes seem to have been shot with the family sitting around a perfectly set dinner table. First, it seems like such an American thing (although in the Dick Van Dyke Show they always seemed to be having cocktails in the living room) and at least on short notice I can't come up with a single British comedy where the characters do that. (They're all down the pub...)
But even stranger was the fact that I couldn't think of anyone I knew who sat down at a perfectly set dinner table every night. We're not total slobs at our house, mind you--we do set the table, and actually use serving dishes, but it's usually in the kitchen. And we do use our dining room, but not on a daily basis.
So is this a peculiar American fantasy that has faded except on television? Dinner at the Cleavers with Ward and June?
Do tell, Reds and readers, where you have dinner at YOUR house.