Crush of the Week: PBSMeghan O'Keefe

Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley. Bert and Ernie. The Doctor. Anne Shirley. Eponine. Neil deGrasse Tyson in a sun vest. Edmund Pevensie. Bill Nye the Science Guy. Julia Child.

These are some of my favorite people and they were all introduced to me by one television channel: PBS.

If you aren’t American, you may not be familiar with PBS, or the Public Broadcast Service. Basically it’s the most basic of basic television channels. Before the digital cable crossover, there was pretty much only one channel you could count on catching with the most foil caked of rabbit ears and that was PBS.

It’s this free station that’s run locally in cities across the United States. The most famous is WGBH in Boston which seems to receive the brunt of the stations’ monetary support because–and this is my guess based upon my eight years living as a nerdy Bostonian–nerdy Bostonians are the types of people most apt to drop $100 a year to help their local PBS continue to air Poirot on Sunday nights. It runs few to any commercials (they’re usually for Viking River Cruises and are so unobtrusive you don’t really care), and so the station lives off the support of government funding and financial donations of “viewers like you”. They have these amazing pledge drives twice a year where they show their all-time best broadcasting back to back and get people like Sarah Brightman to come in and talk to an awkward tweed-covered middle aged person in front of a phone bank about her experiences working with Andrea Bocelli and why PBS matters.

I love PBS. I love PBS so much that one time I volunteered to be one of the people in the phone bank for their viewer pledge drive. There was a massive blizzard in Boston which prevented me from doing it and to this day I’m still angry at that blizzard.

So, really, PBS isn’t a “Crush of the Week”. It’s a soul mate for life.

However, something did happen to bring my beloved PBS into the media this week. It was something involving politics, and if you don’t mind, I’d rather not make this article about politics. That subject tends to bring about screaming and accusatory fingers and discord and really awkward Christmas dinner conversations for me. PBS has never been associated with any of those things for me. My only associations with PBS are wonderful things. So, when someone which potential political power threatened the livelihood of PBS, I was despondent and enraged. Of all the things that America could scrimp and save on, PBS is not, and will never be at the top of that list.

Oh no, I just made it about politics. I’m not trying to fight! I’m just trying to express my love for PBS!

But seriously, cutting funding to PBS is a stupid idea. This isn’t me being political. It’s just math and common sense! Cutting PBS funding will not help the United States budget in any noticeable way and it will only hurt the cultural and intellectual livelihood of its people. Seriously. Ask my Crush of the Week from two weeks ago (!!!), Neil deGrasse Tyson:

Also, why would you even want to cut PBS?

PBS is the television equivalent of the public library. It’s this place you can go for free and be entertained, educated and inspired. Everyone deserves equal access to knowledge. Without programs like Sesame Street, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, Reading Rainbow, Nova, Cosmos, Masterpiece, Great Performances and American Masters, I actually don’t think I would have grown up to be the person I am today. Because of those shows, I learned about counting, reading, writing, making friends, sharing stories, discovering the universe, genetics, the works of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, how hot Matthew Crawley was, how brilliant Les Miserables is in concert form and who Philip Glass is.

PBS has no ulterior political or moral motive except to help people through television broadcasting.

Also, I have literally made friends by bonding with people over PBS programming. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve made friends here raving about various Downton Abbey-esque shows and how much I adore Sherlock and Anne of Green Gables and so on and so forth. PBS is a place that not only inspires us to be the best, brightest, kindest, most inquisitive versions of ourselves as human beings, but it taught me about kindred spirits.

Most importantly, PBS is just the best. It’s the only channel I can turn on at any point in the day and trust that I will learn something and be entertained.

Like I said, I love PBS.

BTW, PBS is airing this new show from England called Call the Midwife. I caught the first episode last week and it was utterly amazing. I laughed and I cried and then I called my mom and told her she needs to watch it because she was a delivery nurse in the 1960s and the show is about a young midwife in a poor part of London in the 1950s. The whole thing made me realize how amazing women have always been. We’re strong and courageous and loving and, oh my gosh, YOU HAVE TO WATCH IT TONIGHT BECAUSE IT’S ON TONIGHT.

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  1. PBS is not liberal or leftist; it is about as establishment as you can get. But it is educational and in the US, more and more often, especially rural areas where I live, you cannot get ANY television stations for free anymore, except PBS. This is why we need government subsidized, educational programming. Further, every other station has very little, if any, obligation to provide educational programming, and when it is supposed to be educational, it barely meets the definition of the word. Cutting it from the budget would do nothing to balance the budget, it would just somehow make the far right happy. I think these extremists needed to watch a little more Mr. Rogers and learn about being a good neighbor, about self-esteem (all bullies have issues at heart), and being kinder to others.

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  3. I never watch PBS anymore. I remember it being popular with me during my youth, but most of their curriculum they boast worthy of your children’s education is nothing more than a curriculum of reprogramming them to support the leftist-style agenda. If it was substantively worthy of its presupposed cause, then I would support it. With that said, I do not support it and I do not believe the government should endorse it by subsidizing it regardless of the amounts involved. It is the principle, not that I like or dislike Big Bird.

    • Well, I’ll be donating to PBS today. To make sure it continues to push a “leftist” agenda.

      Are you kidding me? You may not watch PBS, sir, but I do. I recently watched an amazing documentary about Organutans on PBS.

      What kind of leftist agenda has the curriculum changed to? I learned to respect all people from PBS, even those with different political opinions or views from my own. If that’s the leftist agenda you speak of, I’m glad to be a “liberal” or a “democrat”

  4. Please from the station that makes millions off of one show and asks for hundreds in donations I think PBS will survive without government money. We as a country are TRILLIONS of dollars in debt, the last worry I have is if PBS survives or not.

  5. The federal government pays for all kinds of stupid stuff. At least PBS is a smart investment. Heaven forbid we put in money to reap the benefits of a cultured, educated society.

  6. I grew up with PBS. Forget Disney and Nickelodeon. PBS is where I fell in love with Kermit the Frog, Snuffalupagus, Mr. Rogers, Reading Rainbow, and a bajillion other things. Without PBS, I wouldn’t be able to watch BBC period dramas. I don’t stand with Mitt Romney. I am not taking the words of a multi-millionaire as the gospel. Sure, PBS can survive without federal funding, but what else will Mr. Romney cut in his battle to rid the country of past evils? Sorry, I side with Big Bird.

  7. Call The Midwife is awesome, saw it on the BBC last year – enjoy!

  8. I thought I would share a FB post, your post brought out in me.

    ‎****Warning: After reading my favorite blog, I must have a rant post.****

    The mindset that Federal government needs to subsidize public television and/ or radio is nuts. There are a lot of, yes, I am saying the “evil” word, that I get villainized so much or being, Christian non profits that do just fine with out Federal funding. One amazing example is, K-LOVE Radio, they run solely on donor support, and they run an amazing organization.

    Yes, PBS can continue with out the help of the Federal government, if all you amazing, go getting, Americans fund it with your tax-deductible donations and not with my tax-dollars.

    ****End of rant.****

    I am an American and I stand with Mitt Romney.

    Side Note: I am putting PBS on The Anika Burke charity list for 2013 because I do believe in public television.

  9. thank you for this! =D

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