By Lauren Gray

We all love to binge watch our favorite shows on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon. I am an obsessive binge watcher myself. Tragically this month, my Wi-Fi took a plunge and I have been unable to crawl into the pillowy depths of my room and obsess over my latest Netflix suggestion. During this time, I’ve reflected on the shows I watch and the impact they’ve had on my life. Maybe it’s just my “always trying to find the deeper meaning” mentality, but I feel like TV shows can teach us valuable lessons about our relationships and the way we view our world. I’ve narrowed down the TV lessons into four that I found are the most impactful. By the way, there are a few spoilers to follow.


“Californication” taught me to stop feeling sorry for myself when I mess up. Hank Moody is in an everlasting chase after his baby mama and soulmate Karen. But he continually gets in his own way by acting without thinking and getting himself into hairier and hairier situations. Then when his finally hits the fan, he retreats into a self-medicated state of misery instead of actually being a big person and fixing the situations appropriately. It is only at the end of the show, when he finally faces the music for everything he has done that he finally ends up with Karen and lives happily ever after.


“Trailer Park Boys” taught me that you always stick by your friends. In the third season of “Trailer Park Boys,” Ricky and Julian accidentally blow up Bubbles’ house (a ramshackle shed in the park) trying to grow pot and destroyed everything he ever had. Bubbles was obviously furious, especially for the superficial reason as to why his house was blown up. However, instead of dismissing them as friends, Bubbles gets a new shed to live in, and he sticks by his buddies through and through. That is an extreme case, but it shows just how much our friends should mean to us. Throughout the seasons and during their various shenanigans, the guys continually prove their loyalty to one another.


“Orange is the New Black” taught me the real dangers of keeping toxic people in our lives. Now, I’ve only made it halfway through season two, but even at this point it is easy to see how Alex managed to sabotage every aspect of Piper’s life. Alex heavily pressures on Piper to help her in her drug ring, which ultimately leads to Piper being sent to prison. She destroys Piper’s relationship with her fiance while they are both in prison. Then she completely screws Piper over in their hearing at the prison in Chicago when Alex convinces her to lie under oath. Now this doesn’t exempt Piper from the responsibility of her actions. However, Piper is aware of the power Alex has over her and still finds herself in her grips instead of cutting Alex out like she should’ve done the whole time. Had she realized the type of person Alex was sooner, and had the willpower to stay away, she could’ve avoided a lot of heartache.


“Parenthood” taught me just how impactful autism is on people who are diagnosed with it. Max, (the son of Kristina and Adam Braverman) and Mark (the photographer who falls in love with Sarah Braverman) have autism of varying degrees. Their characters gave me incredible insight into what it’s like growing up and living the day-to-day for people with autism. It is difficult and sad and I have even felt myself tearing up as I watched both of these characters struggle to navigate relationships and communicate with the other characters. Mark has such a hard time and is so in love with Sarah and I feel the stings of pain when he fails at communicating his feelings for her. Max’s story is even more heart wrenching as he faces high school and bullies alike while his family tries everything to help him cope. Empathy and understanding are key themes throughout the stories of these two characters.

We watch shows because they are funny, dramatic or give us a different window to the world we live in. There are so many reasons why I love the shows I do and I enjoy them all in different ways. But I think ultimately it’s important to see what our favorite shows teach us and to sometimes take a step back and look at how they affect our lives. So next time you’re browsing through your favorite titles on a dull Tuesday night, take the time to see what you have taken away from your favorite shows. Oh, and don’t forget the ice cream.

Lauren Gray studies journalism. She can be reached at and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.