Pope Francis has told an Argentinian newspaper that he hasn’t watched television since – spiritus sancti! – 1990. In an attempt to help fill in the blanks, Gabby Hutchinson Crouch offers the pontiff a potted history of the last quarter-century of telly. Warning: includes the words ‘rimming’ and ‘duffle coat’.
Hello Pope Francis, love your work with the poor. And I totally understand that, what with all the building showers for the homeless and sneaking out of your palace to feed the hungry like a little papal Princess Jasmine, you’ve not had time to watch any telly for a while – since 1990 in fact, according to your recent claim. Well don’t you fret, Your Holiness, because I have watched plenty in the last 25 years and I’m here to get you up to speed.
You may have just caught the start of The Simpsons, right at the end of 1989. Rest assured it did get better after those early days. And then got worse again. It is still going now, apparently. Good luck finding anybody who’s still watching to tell you who’s married to who these days. There is also Family Guy, which is a sort of Simpsons with swearing, cultural references and casual misogyny instead of jokes.
“We also have internet telly now, which means you can fit your TV viewing around your lifestyle choices of helping poor people and having a chat with The Notorious G.O.D..”
I know that the life of a Holy Man involves a lot of personal sacrifice, but even so I am deeply distressed for you that you missed out on the seminal televisual masterpiece that was So Haunt Me. From 1992 to 1994, we would gather around in silent awe as BBC One broadcast the breathtaking adventures of the Rokeby family and their wacky Jewish ghost. You will never experience this deep and spiritual joy. I am so sorry, Your Holiness.
The most important things to happen on telly were Friends, Queer As Folk and the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony. Friends was about young heterosexuals in New York who have sex with each other and jump in public fountains. Ross was the worst one and was on a break. Phoebe had possible mental health problems, but in a fun way – she sang a song about a cat. The Olympics Opening Ceremony was a celebration of the Industrial Revolution, dancing nurses and James Bond’s ability to throw the Queen off a helicopter. You wouldn’t have liked Queer As Folk, Your Popeness. There was rimming.
They did 17 different series of Star Trek and 80 movies. They brought in the Borg, who are Space Zombies, which was exciting. They’re now on an alternate timeline where everyone’s beautiful.
Doctor Who came back in 1996 but the Doctor was too sexy so they cancelled him again until 2005, when he was Christopher Eccleston and therefore was under safe sexiness thresholds. Since then he’s been a lanky man with an emo quiff, a work experience lad dressed as a granddad, John Hurt (although he doesn’t count) and Peter Capaldi. It is therefore of deep concern to everybody that the sexiness levels might be spiking dangerously once more.
Everybody rebooted Sherlock Holmes at the same time and now he is everywhere, in every city, past, present and future. It’s Holmes all the way down.
Dick Van Dyke briefly solved crimes in a hospital with his son and Chachi off Happy Days, before being cruelly usurped by Dr House MD. House is another Sherlock Holmes reboot (see above) and is played by Hugh ‘George off Blackadder and Hugh Laurie off Fry & Laurie’ Laurie.
Stephen ‘Stephen Fry off Fry & Laurie’ Fry is basically God to us now, so you’ll have your work cut out with him, Your Potpourri. He teaches silly, clueless 49 year-old child-puppy-man Alan Davies useful facts on QI. Alan Davis used to play Jonathan Creek, a Sherlock Holmes reboot (see above), if Sherlock Holmes was a magician who lived in a windmill and wore a stupid fucking duffle coat.
You missed out on widely acclaimed US drama series Lost, which is about a whiney white upper-middle-class doctor, who gets stuck on a spooky island with a group of much more interesting, likeable and diverse support characters. There are flashbacks, mysteries and polar bears. You’re also missing out on widely acclaimed US drama series Orange Is The New Black, which is about a whiney white upper-middle-class drug smuggler, who gets stuck in a Lady Prison with a group of much more interesting, likeable and diverse support characters. There are flashbacks, mysteries and a chicken.
And I think that pretty much brings us up to 2015. Talent shows are big again; so are baking contests where presenters talk about cakes as if they’re sex. Also we have internet telly now, which means you can fit your TV viewing around your lifestyle choices of helping poor people and having a chat with The Notorious G.O.D..
So why not take a load off those holy feet some time and have a Netflix binge? You’ve probably earned it by now. I hear Breaking Bad is terribly good.
Gabby Hutchinson Crouch is a comedy writer, mum & nerd. She writes for BBC Radio Comedy and Huffington Post UK, and once saw Dawn French coming out of a toilet.