People love TV.
That’s just the way it is.
Heck, when I joined a Facebook group for the incoming freshman class at Baylor, almost everyone included a list of their favorite TV shows in introduction posts. And I think most can relate to the dreadful feeling when you finish an amazing TV series and slip into the post-binge watching blues.
For a while, I tried to pin this national obsession on our decreasing attention spans or overall laziness, but I’m now convinced that it's something deeper. Because we don’t just love TV, we love anything that tells a story. Because within stories, we see ourselves. I can’t count the number of times I’ve discussed characters like I know them personally or fallen in love with TV relationships. But that is the mark of a good story, one that has you personally invested in the outcome.
For many years I’ve told myself and others that I’m not a very empathetic person, but recently, stories have started to change my mind. The misconception around empathy is that it is the ability to comfort or pity someone. When in reality, empathy is being able to understand and share the feelings of others.
So when you tear up at a heartfelt moment in a show, it isn’t out of weakness or fragile emotions — it's empathy. The best stories craft their plots around the viewers and their ability to put themselves in the character’s shoes, no matter how different they may be from each other. And in my opinion, we could all use an exercise in empathy, especially in today’s social climate.
However, this power to impact people, shape cultures, and define generations through the telling of stories means that it can be used to promote vapid entertainment. We need creators with a desire to tell stories of substance, conviction, and purpose. We need creators that reveal our inner empathy. So, if you gather nothing more from this article, hold on to one thing: that your beloved TV shows aren’t just America’s new favorite pastime, but instead are actively shaping you and rocking your world.