Like most people (I assume most people watch an absurd amount of TV like me), I’ve spent a large portion of this weekend watching the sophomore season of Netflix’s “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” It’s just as delightful and fun as always and I can’t help but feel that part of that joy comes from the peppy and terrific theme song that opens every episode. You would think that it would get old after several viewings, but it doesn’t! At least, not to me. Because, you guys, I love TV theme songs.
Why do I love TV theme songs? I don’t exactly know. Perhaps it’s their somewhat ever-present nature. While the plot and characters on a TV show may change, the TV theme song most likely stays the same. It adds a certain level of consistency that can be reassuring on a show like “House of Cards,” where a sudden plot twist or character death has come to be as expected as an icy Claire Underwood stare or an aside from Frank.
Some TV theme songs, like the one for “House of Cards,” don’t have any words and simply use the music to convey the mood and emotion of the series. The sleek and stately sound of the “House of Cards” theme paired with shadowy shots of Washington, D.C. immediately puts the viewer into the cold, calculating mindset of the political powerhouses that populate the series. Other shows that use this type of theme song in a great way are “30 Rock,” “Parks and Recreation” and “Rugrats.” (BTW, I’m very surprised that it took me this long to get a “Rugrats” reference onto the blog.)
Other theme songs (like “Kimmy Schmidt’s”) do what my mother always tells me to do and “use their words,” employing clever lyrics to convey something about the show. Sometimes those lyrics explain the plot or premise of the series, like the classic “Brady Bunch” theme or the more current (but equally excellent) “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” Other times they sing about how great the main characters are, like two all-time favorites of mine, “Kenan and Kel” (I mean, come on. It’s Coolio!) and the woefully under-appreciated “Cousin Skeeter.” (Again, very surprised that it took me this long to mention “Cousin Skeeter.”)
These days, it feels like a lot of shows have chosen to skip the theme song or dump it after a few seasons, (I’m looking at you, “New Girl.”) which I think is a real shame. When I was little, I used to love to ask my parents to tell me about the kinds of shows they would watch growing up. While they couldn’t always remember the specific plot points and characters featured on those beloved shows, they almost always remembered the theme songs and were willing to sing them (again and again and again) whenever asked. A great TV theme song sticks with people, long after the show itself has ended. It gives people something to remember it by. Do I remember what actually happened on the Saturday morning cartoon series “The Weekenders?” No, not at all. But do I occasionally find myself humming the incredibly catchy theme song? You bet I do. And every time I do, I remember the happiness I felt getting up to watch it. It’s stuck with me all these years, like a reliable friend. Or, I guess, like an incurable disease. Depends on how you look at it. I prefer reliable friend.
Do you too love a good TV theme song? Have a favorite that I didn’t mention here? Think I’m crazy for writing almost 600 words about TV theme songs? Share your thoughts in the comments. (Except that last one. Keep that grumpiness to yourself.) And, before I go off to watch more “Kimmy Schmidt,”…