I love television, and let’s be honest, that’s no secret. I have fall shows, spring shows, and summer shows. I have Netflix shows, too, let’s not forget those. I remember very clearly that my love for television really started to develop when I was in the 6th grade in 2004 – the year that LOST premiered and I was ruined forever.
To my recollection, new episodes of the serial drama about survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 premiered every Wednesday night, and after church I would want my parents to rush home so we can watch the episode that we recorded. I was hooked. Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, Claire, Charlie, Sun…I grew to love most of them throughout the first season. I laugh about it now, but when the season finale was over, I remember having the most difficult time grasping the concept of a season when it comes to TV.
What do you mean I have to wait until September to find out what happened to Walt?
I laugh about it now, but I know LOST is what started my love for television. There are many pop culture scholars out there who would argue that today, we’re in the Golden Age of television, and I would agree, for the most part, which is why I’ve decided to write up this post about what some of my favorite shows have taught me about life, death, family, growing up, faith, fate, and love.
Oh, man. Anyone who knows me knows I quote this masterpiece on a daily basis, and most of the time I make Friends references that no one even picks up on. But, really, whenever I’m having a bad day, I do two things: I talk to Jesus about it and then I watch an episode (or four) of Friends. There’s something about the atmosphere of the show that’s carefree and light-hearted.
Like Rachel, I’ve often found comfort in my own tribe of friends. Like Joey, I haven’t had the best of luck when it comes to finding a steady source of work. Like Monica, I can be a little too competitive. Like Phoebe, I don’t have a plan, or even a pla for that matter. Like Chandler, I am not good at the advice, but I am more than willing to dish out a sarcastic comment or two. Unlike Ross, I’ve never married a lesbian.
So, what have I learned from Friends, exactly? Well, perhaps the most important thing I learned from the show is that, in my 20s, it’s okay to not have everything planned or put together just yet. I’ve also learned to never fall in love with your best friend’s ex-wife, but that’s besides the point.
Friday Night Lights
I could go on and on about this show and the amount of life lessons that it offers, but the post would be endless. The NBC hit is based off a film of the same name, but after watching both the film and the series, I find the series much more compelling. Revolving around Coach Erik Taylor and his wife Tammy, the show presents very real life issues that plague a lot of families and high school students.
One of the things that drew me to the show was that it takes place in the fictional town of Dillon, Texas. On the surface, the show is about the High School Football obsession that Texas has, but on a deeper level, the show is a drama and sometimes comedy about real, raw, and flawed characters, and ultimately, that’s what makes the show so enjoyable. Whether you’re watching perhaps the BEST representation of marriage on TV with Coach Erik and Principal Tammy, whether you’re rooting for Tyra to get into the college of her dreams, of you’re sympathizing with Matt Saracen in dealing with issues that a boy should never have to deal with, Friday Night Lights is a show that’ll touch you heart, especially when either Erik or Tammy drop a one liner that’ll change the way you see life forever.
I’ll be honest and say that the only reason I started watching Parenthood is because it’s from the same show runners that made Friday Night Lights so successful, and I needed something to fill the Erik and Tammy Taylor-shaped void after I finished Friday Night Lights. Parenthood revolves around the Braverman clan – a large, eclectic, and loving family. The show follows their triumphs and tragedies as a family, and while they are all very different from each other, it’s interesting to see their interactions as a group of people who genuinely love each other.
I come from a fairly small inner-family. Holidays and birthdays are usually the only times we really interact with each other, so I particularly enjoyed seeing the Bravermans getting together for dinner for no particular reason at all except that they wanted to spend time together. Perhaps each episode has a lesson we could learn, and each character has a journey we admire, but there were two that really stood out to me.
The first character arc that really touched my heart was the time that Christina (the wife of the oldest Braverman brother) found out she had cancer. The show didn’t hesitate to shy away from some of the darker aspects of what it means to have cancer, especially in the depictions of Christina’s chemo sessions and the drastic effects that the disease and treatments had on her body and energy. The most inspiring part of her journey, though, is towards the end of the series when she decides she wants to run for mayor of Berkley – deciding that never again will she live in fear of living.
The second character arc that I loved was the series long journey of Amber (daughter of the oldest Braverman sister) who was played by the ever-entertaining and compelling Mae Whitman. Amber has one of the longer arcs in the series, but it’s so rewarding seeing her transform from reckless and rebellious drinking and drug-using teenager into a strong, responsible young woman who becomes one of the pillars that holds the Braverman clan together during some of their more trying times. Also, Amber sure shows the right appreciation for a good nap.
Other notable characters: Lauren Graham’s Sarah, Peter Krause’s Adam, Dax Shepherd’s Crosby, Erika Christensen’s Julia, Sam Jaeger’s Joel, and Craig T. Nelson’s Zeek.
What I learned from Parenthood: dancing solves a lot of problems.
How to Get Away With Murder
What have I learned from watching this show?
DON’T BE A MANIPULATIVE JERK AND DON’T MURDER PEOPLE
That’s about all I’ve learned from this show, but it’s a valuable lesson, nonetheless.
Marvel’s Agent Carter
This may be the most unusual show in this post, and some of you may be asking, “What is there to learn from a comic book show?” Lots, my friends. Lots.
The show takes place only a few months after Captain America: The First Avenger, and follows Agent Peggy Carter. Carter has just lost the love of her life, and she’s back in New York working for the Strategic Scientific Reserve. Only this time, she’s forced to do secretarial work like filing and getting coffee and sandwiches for the men of the office despite her long and successful war history and time as an agent. (Anyone else remember that time she helped bring down the Red Skull? Just wondering.)
Despite her combat experience and valuable knowledge of espionage and, you know, real field experience, no one takes her seriously, but none of that stops her from helping out her buddy Howard Stark and proving that she can be a strong woman in a man’s world.
What did I learn from Peggy? I learned to recognize the value that I carry, even when others don’t.
I could write about a few other shows that taught me some valuable life lessons, and maybe I will in a Part II post, but, for now, here are some valuable lessons that TV taught me. What are some life lessons that you learned from some of your favorite TV shows?