It’s funny what interesting old shows and programs you can find stored somewhere in the archives online.
Not long ago I came across a reality show from 2005 called, “The ‘70s House,” that featured a group of eight young men and women, most of them barely in their 20s, who had to live together in a house that represented the lifestyle of the 1970s. They had to eat, talk, dress and act exactly the way people did back in that decade. Every time one of them broke the rules by using “modern” words or devices, he or she would be evicted from the house. The last person remaining in the house would be awarded an assortment of expensive prizes, including a new car.
I don’t think I ever realized just how tough we had it back in the 1970s until I saw the reactions of the young contestants on that show.
“Look at this phone!” one of them exclaimed as the group first entered the 1970s house. “It’s attached to the wall and has a… cord… on it!” The group gathered to stare at the relic, which also had, heaven forbid, a rotary dial.
“No microwave?” another one asked, his eyes scanning the kitchen.
But their faces really paled when one of the show’s hosts announced that they had to hand over all of their modern-day items. “I want your cell phones, your MP3 players, your iPods, your laptops and all of your recent cosmetics and hair products,” she said. “None of those things were around in the ‘70s.”
If she had told the group that all of them were about to undergo appendectomies without anesthesia, they couldn’t have looked more stricken.
“And now for a tour of the house,” the host said.
As she led the contestants through rooms of flowered wallpaper and shag carpeting, their eyes widened in disbelief, especially when the host pointed out the state-of-the-art stereo system that included a record turntable and an 8-track tape player.
“I’ve never seen an 8-track before,” one of the girls, visibly awed, said, staring at it as if it just had been beamed down from another planet.
My thoughts immediately turned toward my own stereo, which has not only a radio and a turntable, but also a cassette player.
The contestants really laughed when they were given a crash course in the dialogue of the 1970s and were told they had to begin using words and expressions such as “groovy,” “flower power,” “outta sight,” “can you dig it?” and “far out!”
But what cracked them up the most was the clothing of the 1970s, which the show provided for them and insisted they wear, in keeping with the theme of the show and its rules.
“This polyester stuff isn’t very comfortable,” one guy said, wincing as he tried to adjust the crotch of his pants, which clung to him like a second skin.
When I saw the guys standing there in their hideous plaid polyester bell-bottoms, matching vests and Frankenstein-like platform shoes, I dissolved into laughter, mainly because my late husband once had worn similar outfits – complete with a jade-green polyester jacket from his leisure suit.
I stopped laughing, however, when the girls emerged from the bedroom and one of them was wearing a wildly flowered mini-dress that practically was a clone of one of my favorite dresses back in the ‘70s. Even worse, the girls were standing on some ugly green shag-carpeting that looked exactly like the one we used to have in our living room.
|YOURS TRULY, CIRCA 1971|
“Now, I’m going to teach all of you how to do a popular 1970s’ dance called the Hustle!” the host said brightly.
Ironically, not long ago, one of my friends and I had just been talking about the “good old days” when we used to go out dancing and do a pretty mean Hustle, and how over the years, we’d completely forgotten how to do the dance.
I was offered a refresher course as the contestants on TV lined up in their polyester finery and attempted to learn the Hustle. Awkwardly, they flapped their arms and clomped around in their platform shoes with all of the grace of a herd of elephants…drunken elephants.
“God, did we used to look that ridiculous when we did the Hustle?” I asked myself out loud.
The contestants then were told they were going to be treated to a special meal that was really popular back in the 1970s…fondue. They seemed less than thrilled, mainly because most of them had no clue what fondue was (actually, fondue has made a comeback since that show was made over 13 years ago).
As one of the young guys popped a speared melted-cheese-covered cube of bread into his mouth, he made a face that usually would be reserved for someone smelling a stink bomb.
“This tastes more like fon-don’t!” he muttered.
The episode ended with one of the contestants being evicted because he and another contestant were overheard discussing Botox, a procedure that virtually was unheard of back in the 1970s.
To be honest, I can’t wait to watch more episodes of the show online because it brings back so many fond memories from my own past.
I just hope I won’t end up spotting a clone of my current living-room set on there.
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