The Television Experience: The Glass is Half Full

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The content of television shows today ranges from the highly probable to the highly bizarre. Characters are often put into scenarios that are either extremely realistic or totally outlandish. But no matter what the content there is something for everyone and the public keeps watching. In this day, a viewer can instantly switch from watching an hour long quasi-reality show that studies the lives of promiscuous 20-somethings on the Jersey shore to a 30 minute mockumentary that focuses on the not-so-monotonous life in the office to an hour long account of plane crash survivors and an island full of mystery. With so much to choose from, it is easy to worry about what kind of content you are feeding your brain. On the surface, television serves as entertainment. It is a diversion from every day life, a form of relaxation, and a source of amusement. Although many television shows might be scrutinized for their unrealistic plot lines and seeming lack of moral value, many can and do end up being food for thought with the potential to bring more to the viewer than meets the eye. Numerous studies show that despite the negative content of some television shows available to the public, more often than not the viewer is affected in a positive way cognitively, emotionally, and intellectually. Jersey Shore, an MTV television show that is gaining popularity for being notoriously promiscuous, might (if not somewhat surprisingly) offer its viewers more than just a no holds barred look at binge drinking and bar brawls. Jersey Shore primarily seeks to entertain its audiences and in doing so commits to MTV’s usual amount of tawdriness (case in point: it gained widespread controversy for its footage of a physical assault). Though it is tr... ... middle of paper ... ... arises on television, a viewer can sometimes connect it to situations in their own life. Characters can often serve as examples and, as such, when their actions have positive consequences this can influence the viewer to do the same. Despite there being numerous so-called “trashy” television shows available for entertainment, a viewers most important job is to think more critically about what they are viewing. In reality, a viewer can watch nearly anything and derive some kind of cognitive stimulation from it. There is no harm in watching the promiscuity of the young (or even the old as evidenced by ABC’s Desperate Housewives) as long as the viewer listens to the underlying plight of the characters and thinks more critically of plotlines. Doing this will make any show, no matter what the content, more rewarding and ultimately more entertaining for the viewer.

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