Livia Gershon | Longreads | April 2019 | 9 minutes (2,270 words)
When I was a kid, in the pre-internet days of the 1980s, my screen time was all about Nickelodeon. My favorite show was “You Can’t Do That on Television.” It was a kind of sketch show; the most common punchline was a bucket of green slime being dropped on characters’ heads. It was pretty dumb. It was also created by professional writers, actors, and crew, who were decently paid; many of them belonged to unions.
Today, my kids don’t have much interest in that sort of show. For them, TV mostly means YouTube. Their preferred channels collect memes and jokes from various corners of the internet. In a typical show, a host puts on goofy voices to read posts from r/ChoosingBeggars, a Reddit message board devoted to customers who make absurd demands of Etsy vendors. It’s significantly funnier than “You Can’t Do That on Television,” I admit. It also involves no unionized professionals.