February 1st, 2011
I’ve been watching for signs. If the Kindle really is creeping into our everyday lives, then shouldn’t we be seeing it in our TV shows? Now it turns out the answer is yes, and yes. On our televisions — and in online discussions — we’re starting to hear about something new: all the TV characters who have Kindles.
“I mean, it was only shown on screen about 17,000 times last night,” complained one blogger who’d watched an episode of The Big Bang Theory. (“We get it writers and advertisers, the characters on the show are nerds and probably have gadgets…”) In later episodes it becomes clear that the Kindle belongs to the nerdy character Sheldon, and that he really loves it a lot. “When he was acting like a dictator during the Arctic expedition,” remembers a fan page, ” the other guys toyed with crazy ideas of ways to kill him. One idea was the throw his Kindle out the door of the science station, and when he went out to get it, lock the doors and let him freeze to death!”
Even one of Fox’s animated shows — The Cleveland Show — recently included a shout-out to the Kindle. “I was watching The Cleveland Show and this week’s episode had Rollo being sworn in as the kid to take care of the class’s turtle,” remembered one fan, in Amazon’s Kindle discussion forum. But the swearing-in ceremony for this important grade school position didn’t involve placing your hand on a Bible. Instead, the teacher announces, “Rollo Tubbs, please place your hand on this Amazon Kindle with the Bible loaded on it!”
Another poster remembered the Kindle turning up on a fittingly-titled series: Modern Family. (Interestingly, the character who owned the Kindle is played by Ed O’Neil — the actor who used to play Al Bundy, the very unhappy husband on Married With Children.) In this series, his character (Jay) goes on vacation with his “e-reader thing,” and proudly announces that he’s loaded it up with eight different thrillers by Robert Ludlum. “He doesn’t say Kindle, but when he holds it up it looks like a Kindle 2,” the poster remembers — but apparently Jay also leaves the Kindle on a beach chair. “Later when he is poolside and his stepson sits down, Jay shouts, ‘My Ludlums!'”
One week ago, even President Obama — in the annual State of the Union Address — mentioned the future possibility of “a student who can take classes with a digital textbook.” But the Kindle’s strangest appearance was probably in a line of dialogue on Joss Whedon’s sci-fi thriller series, Dollhouse. It’s set in the future, and Patton Oswalt warns a character about what are now some very serious legal complications. But instead of saying “They’ll throw the book at you,” he warns that “They’ll throw the Kindle at you!” One fan called it “a line that only Joss Whedon would try or could pull off.”
The Kindle has also appeared briefly on other TV shows, including Brothers and Sisters and even Chuck. But it’s all enough to make you wonder what’s coming up in the future? Maybe on other shows we’ll soon discover that there’s other characters who also own Kindles.
And maybe we just haven’t seen them yet…