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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Couch potato

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I don’t think of myself as someone who watches a lot of TV, but that may be a symptom of my addiction—denial. It is true that I don’t have many shows that are currently running with which I keep up. Given the choice, however, I would love to spend entire weekends watching whole seasons of a good show. I like television that makes me laugh, and television that makes me cry. I even like television that, alongside trying to make me laugh or cry, tries to sell me something; it’s good fodder for cynical analysis. I know many people who don’t share my views—literally—be- cause there “is nothing to watch.” Au contraire. Sure, there is plenty of mindless entertainment out there, but there are also goldmines of greatness. Television is an important vehicle for telling stories that need to be told, in a format that is readily accessible and digestible. Some of my friends can’t bear to sit through an entire film, but a 20 or 40-minute episode is doable. Many TV shows now occupy an important platform for changing public views on social issues, or giving underrepresented groups the dignity of seeing people like them on screen – think Glee and LGBT folks, or Ugly Betty and immigrant families. This is not to say that representations of non-dominant identities are free of problematic stereotyping, but the fact that they are being represented at all in media for mainstream consumption is a huge step forward.

I like to think of consuming television, or any medium of fiction, really, as an act of empathy. If my entertainment, in trying to get me to laugh or cry, succeeds in doing so, that means that it has revealed something that rings true for me. Even if the story lines in some of my favorite television shows – it’s a long list that I would be happy to provide if asked – are far-fetched, if I connect with them, then shouldn’t that be the bottom line? Sometimes I feel as though people who don’t watch TV have the upper hand in life. They must be doing so many more valuable things with the time I spending watching “my shows,” like polishing their resumes – man, I really need to get on that – or getting ahead in some other ways. What I think my TV habit boils down to, however, is that it helps me unwind and without it, I would be a more frazzled version of myself. One thing is for sure – my knowledge of popular culture, and consequently my conversational abilities, would be severely compromised. Just call me couch potato.

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