Maybe Those Sitcoms Were Onto Something After All

A columnist facing writer's block revisits sitcoms of the '90s

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by Danita LaShelle Jones |

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By the time the 1990s rolled in, I had become obsessed with any sitcom taped in front of a live studio audience. Because all my favorite shows were spread across several networks and aired on different days, I used syndication to my advantage. After homework and maybe procrastination with certain chores, I’d settle in front of the TV to catch up.

Before long, reruns of “Saved by the Bell,” “California Dreams,” and “Family Matters” had my undivided attention. Sometimes, if I were lucky enough to find the right station, I could see old episodes of “Webster” and “Diff’rent Strokes.” And because they would show multiple episodes back to back, I could watch entire seasons in less than a few days. It was binge-watching before there was a term for it.

Back then, almost every sitcom had an episode where the entire cast found themselves in a fixed space, recounting old situations from previous shows. Aptly nicknamed “the flashback episode,” it was widely believed that these shows were strategically placed midseason to give the writers a break.

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Although many fans didn’t like these types of episodes, they were my favorite. It was something about being able to say, “I remember that” out loud that brought about genuine feelings of happiness. Sure, I had seen them all before, but I always found something new to enjoy.

Out of words

“Have you finished your column?” my husband, PJ, asked as I leaned my head against the door jamb of his office.

It had been a hectic week, and I hadn’t even opened my computer. Although our daughter, whom we lovingly call Ladybug, had experienced a challenging week with her hereditary angioedema (HAE) I had already touched on most of what we had gone through in previous columns.

“I have no idea what I’m going to write about,” I admitted. “I feel like I’ve talked about everything.”

PJ stopped working and turned toward me. “Well, have you talked about how long it took us to get to a diagnosis?”

“That was my first column,” I replied.

“Maybe you should talk about how difficult it was for us to get her medication,” he suggested. “Or you can talk about how she’s afraid of needles.”

“Done and done,” I sighed.

“You could talk about what it’s like when the other kids get sick –”

“Babe,” I interrupted, “I’ve talked about that. Remember?” We sat silently for a few moments. “I’m afraid of repeating myself,” I admitted. “Sometimes this disease is like wash, rinse, repeat.”

It’s true. There are times when Ladybug’s prodromes, flares, and symptoms feel like an episode I’ve already seen.

But then there are the other days. Yes, I’m used to administering Berinert, but inside, I still worry I may mess it up like I’ve done before. Yes, when we have to take a trip to the ER, we have better experiences because they’re familiar with the disease, but sometimes we run into a new shift, and it’s like starting from scratch.

As old and cliche as some of our days seem, once in a while, HAE manages to feel new. Yet I’m always grateful to rely on our previous experiences to understand how to navigate what’s to come.

Occasionally, I’ll go back and find old episodes of shows from my childhood and rewatch them. And when those “flashback episodes” come on, I smile. Maybe they did give the writers the break they needed, or perhaps it was a strategic plan to show that even though we were unsure of future episodes, we could still be proud of how far we’d come.

Note: Angioedema News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Angioedema News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to angioedema.


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