After reading Jenny Prices article, “Tele[re]vision” on new findings about educational programming for children, it made me observe all types of television shows having a larger agenda than previously imagined. Now, when I watch TV I try to pinpoint where the programs’ elbow-nudge of information pokes the viewer.
Since simple facts on numbers and words won’t resonate within the viewer, child or adult, television producers had to become more creative in persuading correct and socially acceptable behavior and mannerisms. For children’s shows, the acceptable behavior that’s played out sometimes involves treating the new kid in school with kindness and respect, or not discriminating when a new one joins the group. I think this idea of portraying the “right way” of doing things has also made its way into adult programming. Most sitcoms that include a group of friends or one specific family are made to be in some ways relatable to the average person. They show career choices, relationship troubles, the characters maturing and another character’s realization. Characters on TV play a plethora of roles. I could switch to a channel and watch a sitcom on a college student living with roommates as I am, or I can watch the hard-working father providing for his family, the list goes on but these programs always have something in common. The commonality in each episode or season that you’ll watch in your favorite TV show, are the types of scenarios in which that character has to resolve an issue. Resolving those relatable issues on screen seem to translate into us, the viewers lives, to implant within us a “right way” of handling real life problems. This in it’s own standard is informational and educational to the viewer. Its not numbers and word definitions on Sesame Street, but it acts as owns wise parent who tells you how to deal with life and stresses when you were younger. Sitcom situational problems can include getting fired from work, transition from career changes and how the whole family is affected. It can be a group of friends bickering on an issue and how the group deals with a diverse mindset. A problem can be divorce, loss of a family member, relationships and their breakups. Actors are steadily portraying people in such situations and since sitcoms are usually comedy paired with drama, it shows us the “right way” of dealing with things. These characters never seem to overreact too much or curse each other out, the way we sometimes feel like handling changes. We learn to resolve by talking to others, taking advice, and letting time heal wounds.
This is progressive programming that maybe wasn’t intentionally the desired effect. Through watching people in positions that we are able to relate to live out such experiences that we do as well, helps us socially as a culture and as individuals. We see correct behavior and may subconsciously use it to our advantage one day. Television shows are no more viewed as “mind-numbing” but educational and informational… well that’s not including “reality TV”.