Friday, February 17, 2012

Why Watch TV? Part 2.

NOTE: This is the second part of an ongoing series about the good of television, including moral reasons and implications.

2.   Understanding of Humanity
Like any good narrative, television shows are designed to tell a story.  These stories can range from the common "Whodunnit" to the depiction of the life of a family.  They can be humorous, dramatic, or even a combination of the two.

Sometimes, though, a show exists to delve deep into the human condition and observe the psyche. 

Character studies are among some of the most acclaimed shows, although not always the most popular ratings wise because of their dense material and complex storytelling.  These shows often move at a more deliberate pace, allowing the viewer to be full enveloped in the people; they are not-so-much situationally driven.  A whole episode could go by with very little plot development, but that is not always the point of these particular shows.

Rather, we the viewer are treated to a person's or group of people's reactions to situations.  We see how they live their lives, and as such, we come to an understanding of our own.  Moral and immoral characters alike give us a glimpse into ourselves and into our souls, and we wonder how we would react.  Would I really cook meth if I developed lung cancer and needed to provide for my family?  Would I really kill one of my best friends if I found he was ratting me out to the FBI?

We do not always have to agree with someone's choices, but we do have to understand them.  Morality is a tricky thing, and it is never easy to live a good life (that was the whole point of Yoda and Luke's training in the Dagobah system).

An understanding of humanity also allows us to understand our interactions with mankind better.  Motivation is one of the strongest factors in determining what someone does or behaves, and through observations of people, even fictitious ones, we can know and anticipate better what will happen.  Or even more importantly, why something is happening.
Example: Mad Men, Breaking Bad

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