Does Television Make Use Dumber?

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Television is a big part of society today. The shows on television entertain most of America, along with conveying information to viewers. Many people today look down on television and blame it for problems we have in society along with making viewers dumber. Johnson’s Watching TV Makes You Smarter and Stevens’s Thinking Outside The Idiot Box have near opposite positions on the issue of television, both describing what they feel is the right answer when it comes to television and society. Throughout Steven Johnson’s Watching TV Makes You Smarter, he compares hit TV shows like Dragnet and Starsky and Hutch to that of more recent shows like The Sopranos. He explains how early television follow a strict linear narrative with little variation of the plot while The Sopranos “will often connect to three different threads at the same time, layering one plot atop another” (283). Therefore, shows like The Sopranos demand a lot more attention from their audience, engaging them with complex characterization and bringing together multiple episodes. Johnson concludes the excerpt by stating ...

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