Sitcoms distort viewers’ perception of reality

Admit it: when you feel sad, binge watching shows is your therapy. Whether it’s seeing Ross and Rachel get back together and break up again on “Friends” or being reminded continuously on “How I Met Your Mother” that you hate Ted and his constant whining (seriously Ted, get it together), TV gives you an escape from the real world, even if it’s for a brief twenty minutes. You get engrossed in the imaginary lives of these characters and you feel like you’re there through their struggles and hardships. And although sometimes you learn from their mistakes, are the lessons we learn from sitcoms always true? Here are some of the things I learned from my favorite shows.

Where to begin? Oh, “How I Met Your Mother,” how I love you so. You have put me through a lot these past years, and coping with your ending will be hard. First of all, you taught me that informing your children of all your sexual escapades over the span of nine years is perfectly normal, if not encouraged. Your children would rather do nothing else than sit on a couch and listen to you complain about every woman who has ever let you down, including the one you made eye contact with for two seconds on the subway that one time. “Friends,” “That 70s Show” and basically any other sitcom in the history of the world has taught me that everyone in the world has a close-knit group of friends that they do everything with and tell everything to. This supportive group of friends will also come with a super cool hangout spot like a basement or a coffee shop. Along with that, “That 70s Show” taught me that dating every single guy in your friend group is acceptable and encouraged (I’m looking at you, Jackie).

“The Office” taught me that any time somebody in your vicinity acts stupid or ignorant, there will be a secret camera to capture your shocked and hysterical reaction. Finally, “The Big Bang Theory” taught me that being an arrogant jerk and pushing away everyone who loves you will definitely not impact your life negatively. In fact, acting this way will ensure a strong group of friends with a cool hangout spot (definitely not a common trend) as well as a girl who loves you.

In all seriousness, sometimes it’s easy to laugh about the ridiculousness of the shows that we love. But among other things, sitcoms ruin our perception of reality by turning undesirable character traits into lovable quirks. Unfortunately, life does not work that way. Sitcoms tell us in every show that we will always have people by our sides, even if we act stupid, selfish or arrogant all the time. In the real world, a person like Sheldon Cooper or Michael Kelso or Nick Miller from “New Girl” would not be able to make and maintain loving relationships with anyone. I realize that not everyone takes television as seriously as I do, and this observation in no way undermines the brilliance of these sitcoms. But keep this in mind next time you become engrossed in a show. While the characters on screen will not experience consequences for their actions, you most likely will if you choose to not work on your own flaws.

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