TV brings unrealistic expectations

Allison Pritchard

Television doesn’t rot your brain. It isn’t just for small-minded people with no lives. In fact, television can show people far-off places, different lifestyles, new ideas and other cultures they wouldn’t normally get a chance to experience.

One destructive side effect of watching television and movies, however, is the unrealistic expectations of life that are portrayed.

The idealistic situations shown on the screen make the average person feel bad about life. Reality can’t compare to the simple and perfect lives of characters on the screen.

For instance, most TV characters have a close knit group of friends on the job, who joke around and care about each others’ personal lives. When something bad happens, it’s usually some funny misunderstanding, or the problem ends up becoming a stepping stone to an even better job or life opportunity.

In real life, careers aren’t that simple. People get fired all the time, and it’s usually not very funny. Things don’t always work out, and people don’t always learn from every mishap.

On the screen, any major life problem is portrayed as simple, or at the very least, not as complicated as in real life. On television, any time a woman unexpectedly gets pregnant, she debates whether she should have an abortion, but coincidentally has a miscarriage right before she has to decide. Then there is the classic “significant other is moving away” scenario, where at the last minute, the lover shows up at the airport gate with a bouquet of flowers, a hefty apology, a romantic kiss or other improbable antic for a happily ever after.

Television portrayals can be destructive to a person’s esteem. Most people don’t have the perfect figure. Their significant others (if they even have one) aren’t sweet and adorable all the time. Most problems can’t be solved in a few simple steps, and on that note, people have more than one problem at a time.

And when was the last time a guy has given a long speech about how amazing some girl is or a dad has said, “I’m proud of you son”? Most people don’t get a new car with a big bow for a 16th birthday. Families don’t normally eat at the dinner table. If watching these idealistically exciting, meaningful, interesting lives doesn’t make a person feel bad about his life, at the least, it makes regular life seem boring.

Sure, movie situations are fun to think about, and many provide good entertainment, but plot after plot after plot of the same old trite situations get old. Why can’t filmmakers come up with something more original, or even just a bit more realistic? How about a movie about an overweight girl or a gay guy without having that characteristic of the person be a main aspect of the plot. Or how about an honest portrayal of the vicissitudes of college life, instead of movies about hot co-eds partying every night or cramming for the last minute exam they ace? Especially with young, impressionable minds out there, more honest portrayals need to circulate. The real world is meaningful and exciting in its own right, so why not represent it at least somewhat accurately on screen?

Allison Pritchard is a junior electronic media production major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].