“Yeah, well, I’ve had a lot on my plate. We happen to live in a golden age of television.” – Dr. Sheldon Lee Cooper B.S., M.S., M.A., Ph.D.,Sc.D.
Socially awkward genius Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory has it right when he says television has weaved itself into our lives and is here to stay. As a millenial, I grew up watching television. It was new, a window to the outside world. Ever since childhood I was fascinated by this box. From cartoons to sports to science, it had everything that my mind could imagine. And if I had a chocolate for every time an adult asked me to turn it off, I could probably put Willy Wonka out of business right here and now.
The sheer amount of time and money that humanity has expended on television is unbelievable. HBO spends 6 million pounds on each episode of Game of Thrones and each member of the main cast of Friends earned more than a million dollars per episode by the time the final season rolled around. And the thing is, it was probably worth it for the networks to pay these exhorbitant amounts, A staggering 52.5 million people watched the series finale of Friends in 2004. If I wrote earlier that sports could bring people together, then television is already doing it day in day out 🙂
There is already tons of material out there on how television is bad for you. From the classic “It will spoil your eyes” to some of the more unique reasons of people getting strokes or seizures. But these are often isolated incidents or are caused by prolonged ( I mean really prolonged ) watching.
On the other hand, there are quite a few benefits to a casual viewer. Most of the 90s cartoons came to India in the noughties and were aired by Cartoon Network. And believe it or not, we learnt a lot from cartoons. First off there was Tom and Jerry. If you’ve not seen it then you probably live under a rock on some other planet. Besides the gags and laughs, let’s not forget that both were highly resourceful characters and I for one really got interested in rupe goldberg machines because of that show. Then there was Looney Tunes. Be it Bugs, Daffy or even Porky Pig, there was always something to keep you laughing. Wile-E Coyote taught you to pick yourself up and dust yourself off and try again (and again and again and again :D) after every failure. Scooby Doo showed us that things are often not what they seem at first and we got our first lessons in environmentalism from Captain Planet. I know that we didn’t really think about all these things then, but subconsciously, we were picking up these valuable lessons. Fast forward a few years and Batman was teaching us to always be prepared and to have a plan for every eventuality. Goku and Gohan showed that nothing is beyond you if you believe in yourself and work hard. Late arrivals, Phineas and Ferb ensured that we kept thinking out of the box and followed our imagination. I guess the adults just saw the loud bangs and screams from these cartoons and that’s why they were against the whole idea. But we picked up a whole lot including life lessons like keeping your friends close and sticking together even in a tough spot.
A sure sign of growing up was making the switch from animated Nickelodeon and Disney to “real life” shows like Friends on the bigger networks. Be it the incredible drama of House of Cards or the comedies like Modern Family and Everybody Loves Raymond, there was something for everyone. I guess that’s another point, because of the sheer volume of shows on offer, everyone can find something perfect for themselves. Storytelling came to the fore and we began to identify ourselves with different characters from our favourite shows. We begin to think about how we would have reacted differently in a similar situation. As with sports, talking about our favourite TV shows became a great ice breaker to start a conversation. Examining plot holes and concocting and reading about different fan theories (Game of Thrones fans probably know what I mean :p) pushed the limits of our imagination. Looking for easter eggs in shows like Arrow is the favourite pastime of many viewers. Plus there are the titbits of science that we pick up from characters like Barry Allen in Flash or Gregory House.
And this is only about TV series themselves, I haven’t even touched on the content on channels like the Discovery or the History Channel. Numerous documentaries and programmes are designed solely to spread knowledge and increase awareness on a variety of topics. Through Animal Planet, exotic species from far off locations get transported right into our living rooms giving an experience that was not possible ever before. Morgan Freeman’s Through the Wormhole deserves a mention for asking and attempting to answer the tough questions in ways such that even the common man can understand. Generating interest in science and philosophy, the show is captivating and leaves the viewer wanting to find out more about the topic covered. Reruns of old movies and classics ensure that everyone can enjoy the masterpieces of years gone by.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that what’s cool about television is there is a constant (almost infinite 🙂 ) stream of content available to us at the click of a button. Be it catching a laugh during a break or spending time with a critically acclaimed show (Felina and Ozymandias (@_@) ), television has something for us all. Might as well make best use of it.
P.S I’m hoping you guys got the reference in the title of this article 😀