From Zoom to Zoom?
Eleven Reasons Why The Iconic ‘70s Kids’ Show ZOOM Would Never Make It In 2022
January marked the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking PBS kids show ZOOM, which premiered in January, 1972. No television show embodied the 1970’s ethos as much as this one. If you aren’t familiar, it was a proto-reality show: a multiethnic group of extroverted Boston kids ran in circles, sang about zip codes, told pun-laden jokes, spoke in a secret language, and did a lot of other cool things without visible adult supervision, like kayaking or baking banana bread – it was the perfect show for the nascent latchkey generation. Although a reboot premiered in 1999 and lasted six seasons, there hasn’t been anything like it since. Here are eleven reasons why this show would never make it in 2022:
1. Something called “Zoom” – in the COVID era? Are you fucking kidding? Haven’t we all had it up to here with Zoom? That’s the last thing the quarantine generation wants right now. Kids would think they need a camera attached to their computer in order to watch the show
2. 1972 kids were Gen X kids, the latchkey generation. Like the kids on the show, most kids in the TV audience did everything independently, without helicopter parents, or without any kind of parents, for that matter. A 2022 show where kids do everything without adults? – never gonna happen.
3. There was this “guest” segment where a girl walked through a forest, unsupervised, of course, looking for plants. She picked out a few choice leaves, lit a fire under a pot of water and brewed up some potion, which she served to her friends. She warned the TV audience to pick the right plants or risk “getting very sick.” All the kids drank the potion. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective), they cut the segment off before the kids started to trip.
4. ZOOM was famous for its introductory credits, where each kid did something different when introducing him or herself – throw a baseball, do gymnastics, thumb through a book, etc. There was often background music, and some of it played to ethnic stereotypes: “Asian” sounding music for the Asian kids, Latin music for the Hispanic kids, etc. No doubt the show’s creators wanted to showcase the ethnic diversity of the cast, which in true PBS fashion, was ahead of its time for 1972. This would be too hot for 2022. As times have changed, many would find it offensive.
5. A little girl named Bernadette had the most famous introduction sequence, her patented “swinging arm thing” that every 1970s kid spent hours perfecting at recess. 2022 parents would consider it dangerous, and worry their kids would get hurt. They’d try to ban it, or at least have the kids wear helmets when doing it. There’d be signed liability waivers, with a mandatory arbitration clause.
6. Right-wingers would believe the secret ZOOM language, Ubbi Dubbi, was a veiled attempt at teaching kids Sharia Law, or Critical Race Theory, or both. I can visualize some redneck senator railing on and on about this on Fox News.
7. Whubbut thubba fubbuck ubbis thubbis? Ubbis thubbair ubban ubbeemubbojubbi fubbor ubbit? Stubbick ubbit ubbup yubbor ubbass, Tubbed Crubbuz.
8. Using what we now call snail mail to send in letters to the show was a big part of ZOOM. 2022 kids don’t have the slightest idea how to address envelopes or have ever seen a postage stamp. Self-addressed stamped envelopes (SASE’s)? Forget about it!
9. Today’s kids couldn’t handle PBS, given the presence of other alternatives. They interrupt the programming all the time and grovel for money. All you get in return are coffee mugs and ancient Peter Paul & Mary albums. Just try pulling that kind of shit on YouTube. I’m switching to Ryan’s World right now.
10. We’ve learned since then that TV shows set in Boston do not work, unless there’s plenty of alcohol involved. They couldn’t do that on a kids show. However, with the intro sequences being the most memorable part of the show, at least we can say that everybody knows their names.
11. The original ZOOM kids are too old now. Who wants to watch a bunch of overweight and barefoot 60 year olds running around barefoot wearing striped rugby shirts?
DS Racer loved to watch ZOOM as a kid, particularly while eating sugary breakfast cereal, which he often paired with TANG, a polyester breakfast drink considered futuristic at the time. His work has appeared in Aethlon: The Journal of Sports Literature, and at New York’s Rough and Ready Productions literary salon. Today he is an immigration attorney in Los Angeles.