The Teaches of TV

The Teaches of TV

Judith Klassen

If youai??i??re like me your mind is as wide open as the mountain meadow on The Sound of Music. Sure, outwardly I mock concepts like The Secret. I scowl at the magical thinkers with their sage burning and crystals. But hey, when blood sugarai??i??s crashing, life is pressing in, and most importantlyai??i??no oneai??i??s looking, I canai??i??t help but sneak a peek at these miraculous guides to health, happiness, fast cars, and eternal youth. And what better a place to soak up lifeai??i??s lessons than the miraculous mystery box that plugs into the buzzing energy, beauty and dysfunction of the entire planet. Books are wonderful, but TV is sooo much easier! If people are willing to take advice from hucksters with infomercial hair who smile from book jackets, why not take a page from the gurus of sitcoms and TV drama?

As I watch TV Iai??i??m increasingly aware that self-preservation tactics are hammered home. In just a few episodes of Ugly Betty I learned to trust no one, that scheming is a lonely business, if you want something done right you do it yourself, and above all else, avoid people who create unnecessary dramaai??i??aka: brain drainers!

Sex and the City taught me how to navigate single life, shop right for my body type, avoid chemical peels before parties, order food but never actually eat it, and to put my girlfriends first because as Carrie Bradshaw espouses, ai???men come and go, but your girlfriends are Amen to that, sisters!

The AMC series Mad Men uses the advertising world of the ai???60s to teach us how to cling to the bottom rung of the corporate ladder while ignoring sexist, racist slurs and slaps on the cakes. It reminds us that life has always been a slogai??i??there never has been a kinder, gentler timeai??i??although it must have been swell to be a privileged white dude back in the day. Really, what regular guy isnai??i??t wistful for a time when men could snap their fingers and receive a martini and a neck rub from the little lady in the party dress holding the feather duster?

The popular CBC series Being Erika, about a plucky gal who goes back in time to try and fix her problems, teaches us that revisionist history is a dangerous thing, especially when applied literally. On CBCai??i??s retro detective series, The Republic of Doyle (think Rockford Files in St. Johnai??i??s), the comely protagonist, Jake Doyle (Allan Hawco) demonstrates that the ladies will always flock to emotionally stunted dudesai??i??if said dude is pretty enoughai??i??and that sometimes itai??i??s good to do the right thing, and sometimes you get punched in the head.

The high profile sitcom Little Mosque on the Prairie preaches inclusion and understanding while playing the just-another-kooky-situation-comedy card. And the campy, popular Desperate Housewives not only reminds us that dead friends are bemused from above, but shows us how to accomplish an array of tasks in most unusual ways: like sneaking your kid into an overcrowded daycare by pretending heai??i??s in CHEMOai??i??never would have thought of that on my own!

As we hurtle toward the future with its scarcity of resources, Frankenfoods, environmental devastation and germ warfare the folks who make TV are forced to think outside the containment box. The TMN show ReGenesis teaches gals not to make babies with men they meet travelingai??i??because these fellas just might plant death plagues in their wombs! The super smarty-pants science series also instructs on the folly of resurrecting the flu of 1918 (in case you were considering it), and gives tips on how to fight the inevitable fallout when you clone humans for their organs, blood and guts.

Also inspired by our brave new world is a rebirth of the undead. The vampire series True Blood doles out advice on how to coexist with our blood swilling buddies and teaches us that itai??i??s all well and good to have that pale serious boyfriendai??i??just donai??i??t take him to the beach in the mid-day sun. And really, thatai??i??s sensible advice for regular humans as well.

So next time you find yourself in the self-help isle of your local bookstore keep this in mind: TV has been tutoring us since Lucy and Ethel out-witted the assembly line matron in the chocolate factory andai??i??it ainai??i??t no secretai??i??like chocolate, TV is yummy, bite-sized and an easy breezey temporary fix to that pesky eternal hunger.

Judith Klassen is a Toronto-based writer, performer, producer and host of the celeb interview show Judecast.

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