I found “Us and Them” by David Sedaris to be very eye-opening. I wasn’t really aware of how true it was that American families surround their televisions, how predominant television is in our lives as Americans that such am interest could label a family as normal or abnormal. David Sedaris wrote, “To say that you did not believe in television was different from saying that you did not care for it. Belief implied that television had a master plan and that you were against it” (803). I think that the Tomkeys’ lack of television in their home, and by extension lifestyle, implied that they did not believe in television and thought that its presence in their neighbors’ homes was diminishing their mental capabilities. David Sedaris’ parents weren’t TV fanatics, but they obviously accepted the concept into their homes, if not to hear the nightly news, but also not to be ostracized by their neighbors.
I think the point of the narrative was to critique the lifestyle of Americans with introduction of television, and how it can negatively affect their perspective of those who don’t also live their lifestyle. “My candy bars were poison but they were brand-name, and so I put them in pile no. 1, which definitely would not go to the Tomkeys” (806) exemplifies this perfectly. The narrator is hell-bent on protecting his stash of candy, even the chocolate he can’t eat, because the Tomkeys are a family that doesn’t have a TV, doesn’t observe holidays on their correct date, and are therefore to be pitied. However, Sedaris shows the narrator’s personal growth, ” ‘What was up with that kid’s tail?’ I asked. ‘Shhhh,’ my family said” (808). The narrator has contemplated the Tomkeys’ differences to his own family, yet when he asks his family’s opinion of their eccentric neighbors, they enforce that he is interrupting TV!