By Daphne Lacroix
These days, it is difficult to find television shows that are not based on shameless themes and distasteful morals. Programs such as the Jersey Shore, the Real World, and bachelor-type shows such as Rock of Love exploit desperate human behaviors for high ratings and fame. Needless to say, our generation is establishing a fairly bad reputation, if all you watch is MTV and VH1.
Recently, however, I have noticed an increase in shows emphasizing generosity, community spirit, and socially enlightening values. The Buried Life, a series focusing on four friends as they travel across North America to complete a list of "100 things to do before you die," emphasizes the need to live in the moment and to experience what life has to offer rather than drowning in the monotony of everyday life. This bucket-list type of show demonstrates the extent to which a few friends are willing to go in order to experience life to the fullest. From asking out the girl of their dreams to helping a classroom full of underprivileged students raise enough money to buy a computer, the Buried Life boys exemplify community spirit.
Documentary-rooted series such as the World of Jenks, True Life, and 16 and Pregnant take a different approach to informing the youth. These shows attempt to place the viewer in other people’s shoes to provide insight on the difficult, original, and atypical lives of various people. Though some argue that series such as 16 and Pregnant glamorize teen tragedies, after watching many episodes and seeing the harsh realities of the girls and how truthfully their lives were represented, it is undeniable that there is definitely educational value to the series.
Furthermore, the show If You Really Knew Me, centered on the popular and controversial Challenge Day program, shines a light on the difficulties faced by high school students and the value of communication. As the students reveal their problems, worries, and insecurities, they realize that they are not alone and that various other students undergo struggles as well. Though there is also a great amount of criticism of the show based on people’s view on the effectiveness of such honesty and openness, I feel like the ultimate impact of the series is clarifying, truthful, and deeply influential.
Though most televised series seem to be regressing in values and themes, the recent increase in inspirational and gripping shows is proof that, somewhere, there is still a moral conscious in American media.