Too Young for Masterpiece Theatre?

Today in class we explored blogging.  Students were to create a niche blog. We splashed them up on the big media screen, showcasing the hobbies, expertise, illnesses, peccadilloes and passions of this batch of college media writers.

From blogs about dancing to satirical pairings of weapons with fashion, the students delivered interesting content and surprised me with their expertise.

One student was a University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Office Certified Master Beef Producer.

His girlfriend, also in my class, created a blog pairing food with movies. 

Later she joked that his blog, “Master Beef Producer” should be married with her blog for a co-effort called “Master Beef Theatre” and I found this exceptionally funny. There were some polite smiles and a laugh or two from her peers, but I found this so funny that I over-explained, “Get it, like Masterpiece Theatre?  That’s fabulous,”  I gushed. Again, a lukewarm response from the classroom. Then it occurred to me that while Masterpiece Theatre is known, it is not perhaps a huge part of pop culture as it was when I was growing up. I credit Downton Abbey with the resurgence of popularity for Masterpiece, yet I feel that it is still not the cultural touchstone it was when I was a child.

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When I grew up in East Tennessee in the 1970 Masterpiece was not a part of our culture, it WAS our culture. Alistair Cooke defined good taste and serious moments.  If we entered a beautifully decorated restaurant with wood paneling, we would sit in a chair and say “Good evening, I’m Alistair Cooke, and welcome to your dinner” and  if we made a quick trip to the public library, we would grab a stack of small books, sit down and say “Good evening, I’m Alistair Cooke and welcome to the library.”

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Cooke even entered our children’s programming as Cookie Monster hosting “Monsterpiece Theater.”

Many years later when I was engaged I wanted to march down the aisle to “you know that Masterpiece Theatre song” as it defined elegance for me, even in the new century.

Am I alone in this? Any other babies of the seventies and eighties feel that real ‘class’ will forever be associated with a serious chair, a smoking jacket, wood paneling, overstuffed curtains, and a stack of books with titles such as Love for Lydia and the Golden Bowl?

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