Watching These TV Series Could Improve Your Life (According to Science)
Published on September 1, 2019
Shows like Mad Men and The West Wing are not only critically acclaimed, they were both distinguished for having been awarded four Emmy awards consecutively. In a 2015 study by the American Psychological Association, researchers found that watching them could increase empathy. Increased empathy is known to improve leadership skills and interpersonal relationships. While only a few shows were used in the study, read on for a few other award winning shows that could also possibly improve your life!
Award winning might be a gentle term considering this series was the recipient of 21 Emmys. The series follows Tony Soprano, played by James Gandolfini, managing his personal family and the famiglia, aka the Mafia. Typically, mafia shows don’t have the audience rooting for the bad guy, but The Sopranos distinguishes itself by creating an “anti-hero” unlike any other.
The anti-hero is someone who is objectively a bad guy, but has been so humanized that audiences find themselves connecting with them. In most circumstances he would be the villain, but the audience comes to learn about and understand him and his motivations. According to the study, watching an award winning drama such as this may result in improved empathy overall, and not just for Tony. That improved empathy has the potential of actually improving your life.
Homeland follows Carrie Mathison, a high ranking CIA officer played by Claire Danes. Mathison fights America’s enemies, fearlessly risking both her life and her sanity as the character also tries to overcome difficulties arising from her bipolar disorder. This unique narrative was apparently so realistic that it was described by Psychology Today as “a true portrayal of mental illness.”
Homeland has won a total of 4 Emmys, both for outstanding writing and acting. Being an award winning show with an honest portrayal of bipolar disorder, it’s likely that it could also improve emotional intelligence like the shows of the 2015 study. Meaning that while audiences are on the edge of their seats, they’re likely to walk away feeling more empathy to others in their own life.
Want to improve your life by manufacturing and selling some meth? Walter White did, and critics and audiences loved him for it. The series racked up an impressive 16 Emmy awards with the performances of the actors responsible for 10 of the 16 Emmys. But it was also the philosophical questions that Breaking Bad explored that garnered a fair amount of discussion.
Breaking Bad asked incredibly thought provoking questions such as, how does a man become evil? Additional themes involved morality, free will, and life in modern society, and still the show managed to have numerous comedic moments. The drama, and the range of emotions displayed from the award-winning performances would likely have made Breaking Bad an excellent study candidate.
Game of Thrones
Having been broadcast to 173 countries and territories, Game of Thrones seems to have united the world. Qualities like unique and complex characters, massive world building, a factual historical basis, and complex political drama seemed to give something for everyone to enjoy.
Game of Thrones has made history by winning the most Emmy awards ever at a whopping 38 wins which we could assume means it qualifies for the 2015 study. In addition, the show has created a uniting cultural force behind it as well. If, theoretically, global empathy has increased it would improve both your life, and the world at large. But that’s not the only show that has left a positive impact on the world.
The Handmaid’s Tale
The Handmaid’s Tale takes a bleak look at a religion-fueled dictatorship which has taken control of the (former) United States and stripped women of all rights. The series focuses on June, played by Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss, as she struggles to live in this new world. But it’s not all completely despair and horror in this series.
A recent story in Teen Vogue discussed how many viewers reported that watching The Handmaid’s Tale actually helped them reduce their anxiety. The series has received consistently high ratings along with two Emmy awards, and two Golden Globe awards. Since watching award winning TV dramas has the potential of both increasing empathy and lowering anxiety, then choosing to watch The Handmaid’s Tale might improve your life in more ways than one.