Counting out our common love for food, my family and I have disparate likes—especially in TV shows and books. When Tony watches TV, I sleep. When I watch TV, he reads.
My three sons? We gave them very limited TV viewing time when they were growing up, so they got hooked on books instead.
We only have two TV sets at home—one in our master's bedroom and one in the dining room (but this second set is for the exclusive use of Ate Vi and her adjutant). So when the boys want to watch TV, which isn't often, they come to our room. That's when I read or solve crossword puzzles.
We hardly ever go to the movies together anymore, except to Cinemalaya, but that's for a nobler reason: support the local movie industry.
There is one TV fare, however, which everybody loves: Everybody Loves Raymond. I always laugh the loudest; and nobody goes out of the viewing room when the show is on.
This US sitcom ran for nine long years, from September 13, 1996-May 16, 2005. We had not watched all the episodes, so when they went on DVDs, we ordered nine (one for each season from Amazon), one at a time, as a birthday gift to Tony—even if we knew he knew that we didn't buy it exclusively for him.
The Barone family in the sitcom is often described as odd and dysfunctional. But for me and my house, it is, quite simply, entertainment. The episodes are also often hilariously real, reminiscent of many Filipino families, including ours.
JR had come home from a rigorous bar exam in the US; I was on a rare break after the back-to-back closing of the school term and book fair. So we decided on a marathon viewing of the DVDs once again—with Tony and JC joining in after a hard day's work.
Some critics insist that the show is shallow and petty, and possesses no meaningful contribution to society. One wrote, “You don't even know whether they are Republicans or Democrats, what they believe in, or their stand on any issues.”
This neuron-defying critical pedantry does not come to our minds at all when we watch the show. I personally think of the sitcom as nothing but heart and humor, like a sudden R&R after a punishing year of hard labor. It requires no brain surgery.
I've always believed that life can't always be an intellectual discourse, or a deep colloquy, or a cerebral treatise, or a theoretical pedagogy. Our minds and bodies need a respite from the coil of human complexities.
In our home, everybody loves Everybody Loves Raymond not for what it preaches (it doesn't) or espouses (it has none), but for what it is—a family that isn't very affectionate, bickers often and whines sometimes, but stays together, and loves each other, despite frailties and differences.
That's what charms me about this show—my boys and I are given the chance to enjoy the grace of laughter together, amidst our disparate schedules, personalities, opinions, and tastes.