I was a latchkey kid. To imply that I was raised by television would be an understatement. TV was my lifeline, my escape from a less than idyllic reality—widowed, struggling single mom; degenerate stepfather; enterprising (drug-dealing) elder sibling. When my brother and I fought, it was for control of our household’s sole color television, a 19-inch RCA with rabbit ears. Who got to watch what and when was a big deal. Back in the early ‘70s, if you missed an episode of your favorite TV show (on 1 of the only 3 broadcast networks—ABC, CBS, NBC), you were devastated. Disconnected.

From the early ‘50s to the beginning of the 21st century, primetime TV was the epicenter of American culture. Monday Night Football, episodes of M*A*S*H and ...

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