Sex, luxury, and drama sells. But by watching television shows are we putting fantasy thoughts of reality in our head? Isn’t that why we watch television in the first place? No one wants to turn on the television and see chubby, middle class citizens go to a cubicle for 10 hours a day, sit in rush hour traffic, get drunk every Friday night with the “boys,” and spend the rest of the time on the John. I think they had a few movies like that in the last few years, what were they called? Oh yes, Box Office Flops!
The media distorts the real life to make a profit. Watching the television shows: “E.R,” “Dawsons’ Creek,” “The real world” “Frasier,” and “Ally Mcbeel,” I’ve come to the realization that people like to watch sex, money, and action drama, and to have a hit television show, you have to cover all of these aspects.
SEX. Sex sells. On every show, there was some reference, or act of sex. Mainly casual, often, and between single adults, these acts were repeated at least twice in a episode. Ally Mcbeel wears tight shirts, and skinny shirts to attract the opposite, and in one occasion, the same sex. Billy and his secretary (in Ally Mcbeel) hit the sac twice in one episode. In the same episode, two male lawyers discussed how they each wanted a 3-some with two lesbians, and to attract a client Billy rented 6 “escorts” to make him appear powerful, and “pimp” like.
On “E.R,” A woman attracted to one of the doctors “dropped” her pencil, only so she could bend over and showoff her ass. On “Frasier,” Frasier plays slow music, dims down the lights, and opens a bottle of wine in hopes of “getting lucky” for the evening. On “The Real World” things heat up in a hot tub for two, and on “Dawsons Creek,” most of the episode took place in the evening, or in a poorly lighted area so they could have more of an opportunity for a “sex scene”
Although the actress who plays Ally, on “Ally Mcbeel” is pushing 40, her character gives the impression of mid to late 20’s. “40’s not attractive” –K.R. For females, the end of middle age, brings Menopause; a time when a woman’s menstrual periods cease completely. You would not see Ally Mcbeel going through menopause, it just wouldn’t sell (hot flashes, rapid heartbeat, nausea, and depression) she creates enough of that through the high school drama on the show.
From watching these shows, it seems that early and middle aged adults indulge in a whole lot of sex. The Majority of non cohabiting early, and middle adults (55%) admitted to only having sex only a few times a year, and then another 25% said that they had sex a few times a month, leaving roughly 20% of single people living like Ally Mcbeel.
Luxury sells. Frasier, with his nice apartment, with its beautiful view, and all his antique furniture, Ally, a young lawyer fresh out of college with her successful job, big apartment in the upper class part of New York, Dawson is living the high life with his awesomely furnished house, him and his dad live pretty darn well with his dad being a chef and all, even the cast of the “Real World” live in a mansion, with a hot tub, mechanical dog, computers, themed rooms, and all the food they can cook.
Ally Mcbeel would never drive a Saturn, Frasier would never be seen in a middle class apartment, Dawson would never wear anything non-designer, and the cast of the Real World wouldn’t be caught dead in an average priced rented house.
Luxury is not what most people have. The average adult does not live in a mansion, or have a $100,000 or more a year job. The Early adult is just starting out, and probably doesn’t have a strong career plan. Most people don’t live like “royalty.” Television shows really make it seem like those are the standards that people should live up to. It in reality would be impossible to live up to these “standards.” If everyone drove a Lexus, and lived in a New York Penthouse, there wouldn’t be a social ladder to climb.
Action drama sells. Ally Mcbeel and all her “high school like” problems attract a number of loyal fans. She broke up with one guy because of his laugh, wouldn’t date another one because of his social status, “he said, she said” B.S, and these conflicts were not resolved easily. There was yelling, and pillow throwing, and hair pulling throughout the episode. And it was funny, action filled, and interesting to watch. The pathetic sexual tension between Niles, and Dafney on Frasier gets tense sometimes. Just when you think one of them is going to tell the other how they feel, something would happen, some one would walk into the room, or something would break.
The early adult doesn’t have such hair pulling Drama in their life. During these years they encounter Career Consolidation: a period in which an individuals career becomes more stable and coherent. My Brother just turned 24, and during the last 2 years has moved from his job at the video store, to “applied theory,” where he most likely will spend the rest of his working years. And my Friend Kevin, 25, is also moving into a more stable career, and home life with his fiancé. These years many early adults search, and find their significant other, and find a permanent living style. The twenties represent the novice stage, a phase where individuals experiment, and test their dream in the real world. By the thirties, men move into the “becoming one’s own man” phase where they develop their family, and career. By age 40, a guy will tend to reach a stable point in his career, out grows his earlier, more tenuous status as an adult, and looks forward to his life as a middle-aged adult. Levinson argues that his adult stages above, are basically the same for women.
By watching television, and watching others watch television, I have concluded that these are the main reasons people watch t.v. Television is kind of filler. Is it true to real life? Not always, but that’s okay. Television fills the space where books used to. Television is an excuse to lounge around, and relax. It provides a time where you can watch a ballet, or opera, in your underwear, legally! It’s a time where family’s can eat dinner without the bothersome chit chat, and where more than one person can hear a story (try doing that with a book, and it gets hard when not every one reads at the same pace.)
Humans are adaptive beings. We are resilient throughout our adult lives, but we do not acquire entirely new personalities. In a sense, we change but remain the same-underlying the change is coherence and stability (Bengston, 1996)