TV shows: healthy entertainment or dangerously addictive?

Admit it. As much as you love your friends, you’ve always secretly wished you could hang out with Phoebe, Chandler and the gang. Or you’ve probably been thinking about what it would be like to have a social life like Naomi’s in 90210. You may even keep telling yourself you’re as awesome as Barney but know in your heart you’ll never lead a life as legendary as his.

It’s OK – we have all at least once imagined what our life would be like if it were a TV show. And don’t lie, you were pretty bummed out when they shut down Megaupload too (may it rest in peace).

“I had the blankest year, I saw life turn into a TV show” - Blankest Year by Nada Surf

No matter what sitcom you watch, it’s almost inevitable as a viewer for you to transport yourself into the scenery, to a land of make believe that takes our mind off our own problems and where even when things go wrong, you know you’ll end up sighing of relief when, for the most part, you get to that predictable yet eagerly awaited happy ending.

Have you ever thought about why you feel so compelled to sit there and watch someone else’s life? One that is not even real? Maybe even at the cost of not living your own?

OK, so we all need some entertainment in our lives, and there’s absolutely no denying that there’s some quality acting and great directing out there too. But don’t we all watch these modern day fictitious tales for the same reason?

In a world where watching TV makes you increasingly prone to be branded as stupid, you still can’t help but feel  the therapeutic effects of, after a long day of work, doing something that takes so little intellectual effort (unless you’re watching Lost).

It’s strangely easy to overcome the already short distance that separates us from that box – in a blink of an eye, we can go back to the advertising world of the 60s in New York or be transported to a high school in Ohio where it’s okay to burst out singing for no apparent reason.

That box was not so long ago still the main medium at the centre of our lives. It was there when we woke up, ate and fell asleep. But with the new digital wave of laptops, tablets and smartphones, we carry our entertainment of choice everywhere.

Want to take a little break from studying? Whether you’re working at home or the library, just quickly watch a short episode (20 min.) of The Big Bang Theory for a laugh and then carry on with your work. Even in the tube – it’s actually  bit frightening how there are less and less people reading the paper or a book. It’s just so much more fun to find out what happened after Carlos killed Gabby’s stepfather in Desperate Housewives.

Yes, fiction in the form of annoyingly good-looking people living a life much more interesting than ours has definitely gained a huge part in our lives. On the one hand, it could be argued that the world is an ever-changing place where watching CSI is kind of the equivalent of reading Sherlock Holmes back in the day.

However, I would like to think there’s enough time to do both. Although I agree with the idea that TV shows could just be the continuity of novels and book collections, one doesn’t necessarily have to replace the other.

In both cases, we’re just looking for something to distract us from our day to day life; maybe even for a bit of company, or for a story that could change our life. Sometimes watching someone go through the same thing, even if it’s not real like our own pain, joy or rage – it’s enough to feel like you’re not alone.

Using one’s imagination to convey a certain message or to put a certain issue on the agenda (teen pregnancy, homosexuality, etc.) is something remarkable, but most of all, useful. Nowadays, some TV shows play that role and come in when the world needs a wake up call to remember that a certain topic should become part of the debate.

Of course, not all TV shows aim to be smart. I’m pretty sure that finding out who Ted had kids with is not an essential part of our general culture. But hey, we all need some fun in our lives, right?

Excellent satirical performance by Glee‘s Jane Lynch on modern day TV

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1 Comment

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One response to “TV shows: healthy entertainment or dangerously addictive?

  1. cristina

    And what about shows like “the weakest link” and others in which the aim is …………. money. People “religiously” sharing the joy of those who win and feeling so sorry for the ones who loose???? Yes we need fun, we need entertainment but some of those “other worlds” are really weird. Don’t you agree?

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