Lauren Lapkus: How My '90s TV Deep-Dive Taught Me to Live in the Present

Catch actor, comedian, and Raised By TV podcast host Lauren Lapkus in Between Two Ferns: The Movie, streaming now on Netflix.

There’s nothing like snuggling up in front of the TV and unwinding with a good memory. I can nuzzle into the wedge of my couch with a faux-fur blanket and relive my childhood spent within the halls of Bayside High, on the window seat of Clarissa’s bedroom, sitting in the cozy booths of the Peach Pit, staring at the top of Stimpy’s beautiful, red butt.

For me, the words “summer vacation” evoke more memories of Wild N Crazy Kids and Brady Bunch reruns than horseback rides at camp or jumping off docks. (I tried camp once…not enough TVs. Also, I can’t really swim, but we don’t need to get into that now.) Don’t get me wrong: I had exciting summers! I danced outside of the school gym with Zack and Kelly because her dad lost his job and she couldn’t afford to go to prom. I fainted on the treadmill with DJ when she felt she had to lose weight for Kimmy’s pool party. Wakko taught me all the state capitals, and I promptly forgot them (which is probably what he would have wanted).

I watched it all, indiscriminately, everything from Family Matters to Jerry Springer to my favorite of all time (FOAT?), The Oprah Winfrey Show. This was before our attention spans became too short for theme songs, and I can place just about any of them after hearing a few notes, or even just the lyrics spoken without a melody, as I once proved on a friend’s comedy show. (No one was as excited about this as I was, BTW.) The Who’s the Boss? theme song is deeper to me than most Shakespeare:

There is more to life than what you’re living. You take a chance and face the wind. An open road and a road that’s hidden. A brand new life
around the bend.

It brings a tear to my eye to picture that van heading to a new life at Angela’s house. This was the early ’90s—the (first) golden age of television. These shows are fucking perfect. Or…at least that’s how I felt until I started a podcast about all of this.

My Raised By TV co-host, Jon Gabrus, and I both grew up with our faces melting in front of our TVs long before the concept of “screen time” would ruin everything. This core commonality instantly shot him into sibling territory like that little shooting star from “The More You Know.” (Don’t remember a single one of those lessons, either.) Finding that person who will giddily sing the Tiny Toons theme song with you is a special thing. So we started the show raring to jump back into our pasts, to bask in unbridled, nostalgic joy, to relive beautiful moments we had spent alone and realize we actually never were because we both—along with so many others, we’ve learned—had these exact same memories.

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