TV can get a bad reputation. With so many ‘reality shows’ that degrade humans or fictional cartoons and movies that are way off base, it’s easy to think of television as a waste of time.
It’s true that if you sit on the couch all day and night, you’re missing out on real life. There needs to be a balance between living through someone else’s fictional world and participating in your own.
But some television shows are designed to mimic the real world. Through the made-up characters and their behaviors, viewers can learn lessons about life they can actually use later.
It’s okay to binge on these seven TV shows. If anyone says anything about it, tell them you’re learning life lessons from the couch!
1. Grey’s Anatomy
Debuting on ABC in 2005, Grey’s Anatomy hit the ground running with a strong audience base. The success of the show has lasted for 17 seasons and is still going.
Its most recent finale ended in June 2021. The plotline tackled the pandemic and its effect on healthcare workers. Since Grey’s Anatomy focuses on the professional and personal lives of people working in the surgical field at Seattle Grace Hospital, this relevant set of episodes is in line with the show’s original focus.
The interns and mentors teach life lessons through their successes, mistakes, and tragedies. We see hard-hitting situations in Season 17. Maggie and Winston’s COVID-impacted wedding plans and Meredith’s stint on the flipside as a patient are sadly reality-based.
That’s how it’s been for 17 seasons, though. Every show ends with a theme that reminds its viewers to keep going, no matter how bad things get. Many of us need that encouragement, especially in this post-pandemic world.
2. Full House
Whether you grew up in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s or not, you’ve heard about the ABC show Full House.
Danny Tanner, father phenomenon, pulls viewers through the life of a widow raising his three daughters. He has help from his brother-in-law, Jesse, and his best friend, Joey. The show catapulted twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen into the limelight, but that’s not the only reason it remains cemented in our hearts today.
The series aired from September 1987 until May 1995, entertaining us through eight seasons and 192 episodes. The show taught us hundreds of life lessons during that time, but the biggest one wove all the episodes together.
No matter what happens in life, family always has to stick together. Sometimes, that family is blood, like Danny and his daughters. Other times, though, friends like Joey and other consistent characters prove they’re worthy of the ‘family’ label.
3. Grace and Frankie
With favorite actresses like Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin starring in Grace and Frankie, it’s no wonder it was a Netflix hit. The show’s first season, 13 episodes, was released at once in 2016. At first, the reviews were tepid, but critics and audiences have been loyal to Grace and Frankie since then.
The two main characters get thrown together unexpectedly when their husbands leave the women for each other. Throughout the next few seasons, the characters have to learn how to handle their new roles in life and get along.
The story is so realistic that the Primetime Emmys have nominated it five times. Other nominations include multiple Best Actress and TV series awards.
The seventh season was supposed to happen in 2020, but the pandemic delayed that. Throughout the six released seasons, audiences absorbed life lessons, no matter how old the viewer was.
It’s impossible to watch the show and not internalize ideas like:
- It’s never too late to grab your happiness.
- You can move on, even after an unexpected tragedy.
- Family isn’t always blood.
- You’re only as old as you feel.
As one of the few successful shows with older main characters, Grace and Frankie is a goldmine of wisdom and encouragement for all ages.
If there was ever a show that shaped society, it was Friends. First airing in 1994, the series focused on the lives of six friends who quickly became household names. Rachel, Joey, Phoebe, Monica, Ross, and Chandler were our friends when we sat in front of the TV.
The show was a rocket to stardom for celebrities Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer. During its ten seasons, we watch the 20-somethings learn how to navigate the world of adulthood.
We share in their dramas and heartbreaks, love stories and breakups, and, eventually, marriages and pregnancies.
One of the most prominent themes that follow each season is doing what makes you happy. You don’t need the approval of others. But having true friends as your support system makes it all easier.
5. This is Us
The collective TV show-binging world may have all had broken hearts when NBC’s hit This is Us announced its final season in 2021. Debuting in 2016, the series focuses on a family of two parents and their three children.
Unlike most shows, this one bounces around to various time periods of the characters’ lives. Rebecca, Jack, Randall, Kate, and the other stars grow up before our eyes.
The plot takes us through the Pearson family as they age. It’s a drama and comedy that teaches viewers how small choices and events shape our lives.
In each episode, there’s a connection made between the characters’ past and who they became. The show is so realistic that the series has been nominated for many Best TV Series awards. The actors have been nominated for and won awards, as well.
6. Golden Girls
Considered one of the best TV series of all time, Golden Girls taught decades of viewers lots of lessons. It’s an icon in a society full of trendy pop culture. Rose, Sophia, Blanche, and Dorothy remain living and breathing characters, although all but Rose (Betty White) have been gone for years.
The show revolves around the four women who live as roommates in Blanche’s house in Miami. They’re older women, divorced or widowed, who, aside from Dorothy and her mom, Sophia, have come together randomly.
As we watch them slowly get to know each other, we see their bond grow and become unbreakable. Through Sophia’s sharp, witty humor, Blanche’s sexual innuendos, Rose’s dumb-blonde statements, and Dorothy’s sarcasm, they all cement their characters into our hearts.
Over the seasons, the show hit on controversial topics long before its time. It aired from 1985 to 1992, before it was commonplace to talk about ‘certain things.’
There were episodes that covered artificial insemination, coming out as gay, sexual harassment, promiscuity, mixed-race marriages, and much more.
But in every episode, viewers engaged in lessons that taught us friendship comes before anything else. And, of course, we learned that comfort food could fix anything.
7. Arrested Development
Arrested Development aired on Fox in 2003. During its first three seasons there, we meet the Bluths. The family was once wealthy, but now they’re dealing with the aftermath of losing all their money.
Michael is a widower. His son is George-Michael, and his family is dysfunctional. The police arrested his dad during a business event, resulting in the entire family’s frozen assets.
Over time, Lucille, Michael’s mom, has to deal with financing her penthouse without any money. His brothers and sister, as well as their families, are also struggling to either maintain their old lifestyle or adjust to the new one.
But the series evolved after Fox canceled it in 2006. Netflix took it over in 2011 and approved five seasons.
The obvious lesson of money not buying happiness spreads throughout the humorous sarcasm of the plot. Viewers of all eight seasons learn other life lessons, though. No matter how dysfunctional the family gets, it’s important to be honest with each other and communicate openly.
Who says you’ll never learn anything by being a couch potato? These binge-worthy TV series won’t get you any exercise, but they will teach you a lot of life lessons. You just need to get off the sofa and use your new knowledge[Client bio]
Caitlin Sinclair is the Property Manager at Portside Ventura Harbor with five years of property management experience and many more in customer service. She loves sharing her passion for her community and looks forward to making Portside Ventura Harbor the place to call home.