What TV dramas ‘teach’ viewers

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We were shooting the breeze with some psychologists last month, when the casual talk and banter veered more productively to a discussion about TV shows’ ability to “teach” viewers how to live their lives better.

For instance, how do romantic teleseryes vivify what it takes to more genuinely love and be loved?

Alas, they didn’t get high marks from the experts, who worried that their unreal or excessively melodramatic presentation of love generally ended up blinding viewers to the realities and challenges involved.

Some analysts fret that TV romances are too fixated on the “fated” nature of love as dramatized on television. It’s a comforting thought that your link to the love of your life has been forged for eternity and cannot be avoided or denied, but more often than not, it just isn’t so!

Some psychologists believe that we have multiple possible love and life partners, and when one pans out over the rest, it isn’t due to our being shafted by lightning from above or by Cupid’s ardent arrow, it’s more a question of the relative compatibility of shared needs and wants.

The experts also object to the prevalent “rich-poor” dichotomy in TV dramas, because it gives some viewers unlikely or unachievable ideas about how love can dramatically “democratize” social systems and standards.

Nasty engine

Also not to be encouraged is many teleseryes’ penchant for turning passionate love into similarly fierce and even ruthless hate—and revenge! This, in fact, is the nasty engine that drives many local drama series, and it has a negative effect, especially on young viewers, because it subverts and perverts true love’s positive power to make people better, not worse.

Another victim of drama series’ perversion of the impulse to love and be loved is the major role that protagonists’ relatives are given in further coopting and corrupting love’s initially pure impulse.

As a result, local teleseryes end up focused on the cynical and vicious objective of preventing the series’ resident lovebirds from living happily ever after!

Why has romantic storytelling on TV become so negative and perversely cynical? A major culprit is the fact that, at the end of each telecast, a daily drama series has to create a new problem to keep viewers watching, so pure love and loyalty simply won’t do!

New problems and subconflicts have to keep the lead couple from enjoying the happiness they deserve, so they have to constantly be torn apart and assaulted by all sorts of complications, temptations and heavy-breathing interlopers.

When a series turns out to be a big hit and is thus extended, the problems become even worse—and there goes the series’ organic unity and believability!

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