TV Life Lessons

A while back I heard a re-run of the Brian Lehrer show where they had a call-in segment about TV – specifically: “What real-life lessons have you learned from fictional television?” Umm… how did I miss the live call-in for this?! Anyway, I was glad to catch the repeat and decided to post about it now… many months after the fact!

I started to run down, in my head, what I would say if I had called in. I would have wanted to talk for hours about how some of the television gems that I’ve seen have really, truly taught me something, but if I had to choose, my winner would be…

Six Feet Under!

Six Feet Under knocked my socks off. I kicked myself for not watching it sooner – one of my college roommates kept telling me to watch it and I put it off for some unknown reason (probably because death has always been one of those subjects that I’ve avoided, but… anyway). Once I took the plunge, I soon realized that there was not one single episode that disappointed and I fell in love with the Fishers, their family run funeral home, and the life and death that walked through its doors. The writers took such heavy subjects – death, funerals, funeral homes, family dynamics – and looked at them under a beautiful, sometimes disturbing  light. I binge-watched the entire series in just a couple of weeks – after work and between semesters of grad school.

Seeing that much death in such a short amount of time (and portrayed in a sometimes very funny light) gave me a lot to think about. The series taught me to look at death a little more objectively and it helped me realize that I had been looking at death in such a subjective way. And, why wouldn’t I have experienced the loss of family members and friends as subjective? I think that’s just natural and normal. So, to see death, grief, life, and more under an objective microscope (the viewer generally does not know the characters who die) gave me a peek into how others deal with death, even if it was fictional.

To boot, the show had one of the most satisfying series finales that I’ve ever seen. A lot of shows can tie up story lines and leave the characters in a good place, but Six Feet Under brought it one step further and the viewer sees what the future looks like for the Fisher family in a real, matter-of-fact yet emotional way. Here’s one of the quotes that’s stayed with me:

Claire: Oh, I wanna take a picture of everyone.

Nate: You can’t take a picture of this. It’s already gone.

Check out the HBO site for Six Feet Under – all of the episodes are available on HBO GO and won’t let you down.

And, a close second… Modern Family

I couldn’t write this post without referencing one of the best sitcoms on TV – Modern Family. A short clip from one of the recent episodes solidified its place as a runner-up to Six Feet Under on my list. You don’t really need to know much about the show to appreciate the quote from Jay Pritchett (but if you do, watch the clip):

There’s all kinds of milestones in life. The kind you expect to live through – first kiss, birthdays, graduations, and if you’re lucky, a wedding or two. Or even a new addition to the family. Then there’s the kind you never dreamed you’d get to live through again, and that’s the best kind of all.

So… what about you?

It’s no surprise to me that both of these shows share a main theme of family, something near and dear to my heart. So, what were some of the shows that taught you some life lessons?

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