Archive for Monday, October 8, 2012


River City Jules: The Nielsen family

October 8, 2012


“I have exciting news!” I exclaimed, settling into my parents’ kitchen with my mom and sister.

“Uh-oh,” Mom said, bracing herself.

“No, not that.” She still hasn’t recovered from our exciting news of October 2002, which manifested itself eight months later in the form of one tremendously sweet, though quite unexpected, Caroline. Nothing has ever been as exciting since then.

But to an entertainment junkie like me, this surprise came close. “We’ve been chosen as a Nielsen Family!”

The Nielsen Company gathers viewer information to help networks determine the advertising value of their programs. I have never felt so influential to pop culture in my life, as our input would help decide which shows stay on the air.

“We have one week to record the shows we watch,” I continued, “so if you have any favorites you want us to mention, let me know.”

Mom thought about this for a moment.

“I assume you already have ‘Modern Family’ covered?” she asked.

“Yep, and we’re going to make sure ‘Duck Dynasty’ gets on the list too,” I added. “Duck Dynasty” follows the Robertson family of Louisiana as they live the good life of multi-millionaire duck call producers. Think Kardashians of the swampland, except hilarious, self-sufficient and family-centered, with awesome hair.

“What about HGTV shows?” Mom asked as she brought up the DVR list on their television screen. “Candice Olson on ‘Divine Design’? And make sure you include ‘Sarah’s House.’ She’s Canadian, though, so it’s pronounced ‘hoose.’”

I had forgotten HGTV was a channel, but if it makes my mother happy, I am willing to write it down.

“I like Chandler’s new show,” she added.

“‘Go On?’” I clarified.

“OK,” she continued. “And don’t forget about USA Network.”

“We’re already adding ‘Psych’ to the list,” I assured her.

“And ‘Burn Notice,’ ‘Suits,’ ‘White Collar’ and ‘Major Crimes’?”

“Um, sure?” I did not realize my parents were such pseudo-sleuths. Nor did I realize USA Network broadcasts other shows besides “Psych” marathons.

“Oh! And please make sure you add Brian Williams,” she implored.

“Mom,” my sister piped up, “I don’t think NBC is going to get rid of ‘Nightly News.’”

As she began listing cancelled shows she’d like to see return, I worried about the amount of television my empty-nester parents watch. It occurred to me, though, that Mom never mentioned anything about housewives, toddlers or tiaras. And, with that, I again felt secure about my upbringing.

The burden of determining future programming is mighty, but with such television expertise running through my veins, I am certain I am qualified for the task.

— Julie Dunlap can be reached at


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