I deleted all the Housewives from my DVR. I know you’re shocked. I was too, but I had to do it. As I was watching one particularly vapid episode of the Atlanta housewives, I realized that I was feeling…stupid.
If you’ve watched any amount of reality television, you know that they often sensationalize the story lines (No! Say it isn’t so!) in order to encourage viewers to keep tuning in to watch. The thing is…it’s all the same story lines time and time again. Portia has anger issues. Kenya is a bully. Kandi has no opinion what-so-ever. Lisa Vanderpump has money. Blah.
I’m a writer. I need to watch and read good writing. How else can I truly push my own writing to new levels?
So, I deleted reality from my DVR.
Instead, I’ve utilized my TV watching time for more respectable pursuits and I’d like to encourage you to do the same. Here’s a few shows I’d recommend.
- Mercy Street on PBS. Yes, I said PBS. It isn’t just Sesame Street and Polka Parade. Mercy Street is set in Alexandria, Virginia during the Civil War. Specifically it’s set in a hospital, but they’ve started to expand the world out into scenes on the battlefield and to the Confederate capital of Richmond. What I enjoy most about this show is that it isn’t stuff like you’d expect for PBS. There is a bit of humor added in at times. After all, Josh Radnor, who played Ted Mosby in How I Met Your Mother, plays one of the main characters! There are also seasoned stage and screen actors Gary Cole, Belinda Gibson, Donna Murphy and Brian F. O’Byrne. The writers of Mercy Street have a way of eliciting a type of emotion from the viewer. They delve into racial issues which speak to the Civil War era, but also to us today. I’ve also learned a lot from this show about this time period and about different aspects of black versus white living. But it isn’t a show solely about race. There is intrigue (seriously, everyone has their own agendas!), romance, and comedy interspersed with factual scenes. Many of the characters are drawn from real-life Civil War people and the writers stick very close to the timeline. What else would you expect from PBS? Check out their website for a LOT of info and check it out on PBS. You can even tintype yourself!
- This Is Us on NBC. If you haven’t caught on to this mainstream network phenomenon – WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Many of my writer friends are enamored with this show. It has everything a good, get-you-in-the-feels type of story a show needs: end of life decisions, relationship conflicts, and body issues get combined using drama, comedy and satire in a way that you never want an episode to end and you long for another week to pass just so you can watch this awesome show. Not only are the writers exceptional at what they do, but each actor connects with their character in such a way that the viewer gets sucked in to their world. So much so that you feel like they are your family, your friends and your concern. I haven’t had a show touch and astound me in this way since Lost. It’s up there with E.R., thirtysomething, West Wing and The Sopranos. Notice I used many different genres. That’s because I can’t really pinpoint where this show comes down. (Although it’s not Science Fiction like Lost.) There is something for everyone in this ensemble cast and you never know where the writers are going to turn next.
- Vikings on History. Okay, I’ll admit, I only watched this one a couple of times, but, like Mercy Street it combines historical reference with drama and suspense. Plus, I loved the downright barbaric nature of it all. The costumes and makeup are enough to keep me watching, but the tense nature of the entire show had me seeking for air lost to my lungs. Thank God for commercials in which to breathe! Once again, as with MS, I found myself wanting to know more about these time period and longing for the next episode. Sadly, it’s not running right now but I’m setting up my DVR to be ready for season 5 which, they say, is coming soon. DISCLAIMER: If you don’t like blood and gore, this one might not be for you. It’s not used in an over-the-top way, but these were bloody, gory times so…that’s what’s depicted.
In the end, I’m finding that I want to watch these kinds of shows instead of reality T.V. and I pray that more people will seek to expand their knowledge and intellect by watching shows of this nature, too. I hope people will get back to intellectual pursuits. Don’t give in to the dumbing down of America. Seek to learn, grow and expand your mind. We can only watch so many cat fights, booty shaking and baby mamas trying to stick it to their man. Learn to reject this type of entertainment in lieu of something that will educate and inspire you. I hope my suggestion will help get you off on the right foot.