Opinion: “I don’t watch T.V. I learn from it.”

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“Friends” was a popular show I grew up consuming. What it taught me still remains questionable. Photo courtesy of Vox.

Television presents all the themes in life that I am now accustomed to. What does this mean for me?

Like many, I grew up in a middle-class family. The television screen was a focal point of our house. I woke up and it would be on and still be when I went to bed.

TV is not just a false reality. It is an escape. It did not just teach me about friendship. It taught me the lifestyle and pleasure of having friends.

I remember being turned away from shows like the “Desperate Housewives” or the gruesome medical dramas that my parents would watch. Not that they were uneasy for me as a child, but that the shows seemed so real. I believed whatever was on television was a product of fact. Maybe television was a catalyst in all aspects of my life.

Other shows like “Friends” taught me the meaning and practicality of relationships and what companionship and intimacy looked like. I figured if Ross and Rachel were meant for each other, the show ought to determine that. “Friends” also gave me the idea to live in New York City. If these people without high-income careers were able to afford a stylistic apartment in the city, I could too. Of course, the anatomy of true friendship also sparked my interest. Friends, all in their 30s living together was fascinating.

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But what part of television makes it so culturally defining? Why do coffee shops tend to show up in every episode of sitcoms?

Through my mid-teenage years, one of my favorite shows was “Seinfeld.” The sophistication of a “ show about nothing” proved everything to me. The humorous events and pointless conversations were perfect.

Interestingly enough, I soon found myself engaging in television shows that reflected my own junctures of life. “Everybody Loves Raymond” was about a middle-class family with commonplace values, except maybe without the wacky in-laws. “The King of Queens” did the same.

Now older, I try to cultivate my engagement through more dramatic television. Although I only watched the first season, “Mad Men” was exceptional, and Don Draper was cool. The pilot episode for “Grey’s Anatomy” was well written and made me an instant fan of Writer Shonda Rhimes’ work. “Stranger Things” was a box-office hit for Netflix on its own.

Occasionally, people will ask me what television shows I admire the most. I think for a moment before listing a few, usually ones I had just watched. But what I am really thinking about is this, I don’t just watch TV. I learn from it.

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