It’s the end of a long day, and what weighs heavily on the mind is relaxing and unwinding. Getting the kids organized and settled, dinner prepped, cooked, and eaten, dishes cleared, and calling it a day, time for you, time for loved ones, time to escape and just enjoy. Many of us choose to go to books to relax, others music, and yet others still, TV. The plethora of choices inundates our fancies, tickles us with a myriad of genres, issues, and and topics, tantalizing our not-so-obvious senses, realities and underlying emotions. TV today has such great appeal for our senses; the aesthetics of colour, the emotional inducements of the auditory aspects of music, and the undertones of issue, sentiment, and drama. And therein, lies our appeal for, and the usefulness of, “This Is Us.”
Appeal and usefulness. You read it correctly. My clients know that I’m always talking about comparing and judging others. It’s what we do. We wired to do it. Have you ever wondered why? Psychologically, one of the reasons is to maintain the status quo. Our own status quo. It’s like our moral compass to some extent, serving as a guidepost, something to measure ourselves and our behaviours against, keeping us in check, making sure we’re doing it right, doing it better, not doing this, or not doing that. “This is us” is the connector, that which we can measure and assess our standards, expectations,what we do, what we don’t do, and so on.
Our appeal for watching TV dramas, (which is different than attracting or needing “drama’ in our lives), satisfies the questions about what we ourselves have or don’t have, what we want or don’t want, and what’s going on for us in our own, individual, every day, lives. These genres of TV shows lend themselves to legitimizing our individual existences as they occur in real life, as us a real people, and make us feel ok with what we’re going through or experiencing, for real. No suspended reality or fantasy here.
The usefulness for these kinds of shows goes beyond our innate curiosity and attraction for drama, and the base desire to peer into the windows of others. It makes us feel connected, not like an outcast or alone, but emotionally connects us and makes us feel we’re normal. From a behavioural and neuro-scientific point of view, what resonates with us, we relate to, identify with, feel legitimized and validated by. This is why we love this show, and others like it, as much as we do. They’re reflections of real world issues, real world struggles, and what real people live.
Have you noticed what covers your floors or tables by the end of the show? Kleenex. And lots of it. Half the box is used up even before the show is over. Everyone is teary. It’s cathartic. Out of the need to make sure we’re doing ok as individuals, with our own unique set of conflicts, struggles, upsets, and challenges, “This Is Us” helps to put it all into a perspective we can manage, understand, and use as a release. Usefulness. After a good cry, or a passionate discussion about this scenario or that encounter, we feel relieved. It’s out of our system, and we feel better, good, able to go on.
Living in suspended reality is great, until it’s over. TV creators are very savvy people; take the innate behaviours and the base needs and desires of the human race, relationships, connectedness, food, and sex, and you’ve got a recipe for success. As a Behaviourist, from a psychological point of view, it’s almost like free therapy or counselling. As the story grows, we become more imbued in these shows, creating a need to have more, and watch more.
We thrive on this stuff. The innocent and seemingly unintentional gift these writers and creators have given us, are the lessons and insights into how best to live life, what to avoid, what to create, how to handle and manage what may come your way, and illustrate to the viewer that their lives aren’t as abnormal or chaotic as they may think, and that their not alone. Life is hard, full of challenges, ups and down, sadness and loss, but at the end of the day, while life happens, life is doable, life is good, and life is what you make it.
If you’re struggling in your life, know that you are not alone. You don’t need a TV show to show you that, to validate or acknowledge you, or to legitimize what your going through or struggling with. If it doesn’t feel good or feel right, that in itself is enough to know you still deserve to feel horrible about it, to be in it, and to want to work through it. Talking helps. Until you begin to deal with the issues occurring in your life, they don’t always disappear. Usually, they end up following you wherever you go, until you start dealing with them. Television is escapism, and most shows are only 30 or 60 minutes. There are 24 hours in a day, and you deserve to be free of your challenges and struggles for most of that 24 hour day, and not just have them masked or bandaid-covered.
When you’re ready to chat, I’m here.