Wednesday, March 9, 2022


I submitted this essay for my TV module and got a 78% for it. Apparently, I'm a solid 78% student across all my modules, so I'm trying to improve my writing to bring it to 91% (because Marcus got 91% for our philosophy paper, wtf, is he Socrates???). Anyway, I have been elected to be the women students' rep of the Students' Union, and my term starts in May. That's all, have a lovely week, I'm busy working to pay off my tuition, if you'd like to loan me a sum of money so I don't have to pay hundreds of dollars in interest to my Singapore bank monthly, I'd highly appreciate it, this is not a joke. 

    Thinking about this as a 'big year' for spending time with screens, make a list of your screen time attention - TV formatted 'shows' in particular (i.e. not quick YouTube experiences or one-off TikTok videos - but maybe recurring series, etc.). After thinking about your list, think about what it says about you ... if all viewing is, in a way 'connected' and 'productive;' what does your list say about you (both to you and to others who might read your list)?
Among the shows on my list, there are definitely certain ones that I would consider and call my absolute favorites. These are Avatar: The Last Airbender, Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act, Jeopardy, Queer Eye, Ted Lasso, and The Good Place. Everything else, I might have considered filler, to pass any free time I had while I was at home and having a meal, or just because there was nothing else interesting on Netflix. I will describe what each of my favorite series represents to me, and in this way, I will also aim to describe what it says about me.

When I started watching Avatar: The Last Airbender, it was because my sister had watched it and she had stickers and decals of the characters on her laptop, as well as her phone screensaver, etc. I’d also heard, in general, that many people liked it and that it was a well-made show. I started watching it to be in the know, and to fit in with my sister, and other people who liked the show. It turns out that I did enjoy it and liked it, as well. What I think it says about me, is that I have a fear of missing out, slightly, and that I do yearn for connection with other people.

Beyond this, Avatar: The Last Airbender is about a heroic protagonist who is literally the only person who can save the world from the “bad guys”. Additionally, he manages to make a friend in his foil and antihero, a person called Zuko. Zuko has a misguided-villain-to-semi-hero redemption arc, and what I’d like to think this says about me is: I have a hopeful streak, and I do hope that in this society we live in, some heroes (with no supernatural powers) might band together to save the world from climate disaster.

I watched Ted Lasso because one of my good friends recommended it to me, and I became so very fond of it. Ted Lasso is a show about a football coach who’s perhaps the opposite of or very far off from the stereotypical football coach one might think of. The show is written around strong men and women. The strong men have sessions in which they talk about their feelings, without making a big deal of it. There are characters that display streaks of toxic masculinity, but they are few and it’s also portrayed as leading to unhealthy relationships and self-esteem issues.

The strong women lift each other and have real and proper girl friendships, without any of the usual bitchiness or cattiness or superficiality (although they do sometimes talk to each other about men). This is definitely one of the shows that appeal to me because of my feminism, and strong personality. I enjoy that the show tries, and mostly succeeds, to defy gender norms and restrictions.

It also deals with mental health and therapy in a rather comprehensive manner, that maybe will show viewers that i) therapy is for everyone, ii) it is okay to be scared of therapy if you haven’t been or if you haven’t had good experience with it yet, and iii) that it’s still possible to overcome or work through it and use it for the better.

I am a strong proponent of therapy and mental wellness, I go for free counselling in school as a student. I aim to publicise to as many people as possible that such resources are readily available to us. We as students should be taking advantage of it, because therapy and mental health facilities aren’t readily available in many places, and especially for free (although I think it should rightfully be free considering the exorbitant tuition I pay as an international student).

Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act has a special place in my heart because I’d been his fan for many years, since his first Netflix special, Homecoming King, in 2017. What I hope this says about me is that I’m loyal, what it might say about me is I could be a little obsessive. Patriot Act has been cancelled because he got into trouble with a few rich and powerful people (I think this was the reason), but it was a solid, informative, entertaining, and moving series. He would talk about important issues such as Black Lives Matter, unfair marijuana criminalization/profitization based on race, fast fashion, etc etc.

His points were hard-hitting, but somehow, Hasan Minhaj has a rare way of bringing emotion in without necessarily sensationalizing issues. Anyone can present facts and figures, but he did it in a way that resonated with you. At least, I might have felt more of it because he’s a person of color (still not a woman of color yet, but perhaps that’s for me to fill) introducing -or developing arguments about- issues to the world, on Netflix. All this to say, Hasan Minhaj to me is meaningful representation, and that’s something I stand strongly by, especially as I go to school in a predominantly white country and still see predominantly white faces in many classes.

Jeopardy is my absolute favorite game to watch and play. I grew up watching the late, great Alex Trebek, and always thought of him as the kindly white grandfather everyone should have. He was one of the people I wanted to meet in person (the others are Taylor Swift and Hasan Minhaj). What I want this show to say about me, or what I think it does, is that I’m always thirsty for knowledge, and I’m semi-autodidactic (if I were a complete autodidact I wouldn’t be in university).

If you haven’t seen a contestant called Austin Rogers, please watch the episodes with him. He’s one of the top winners of all time on Jeopardy, and he has one of the quirkiest personalities I’ve ever seen in anyone. I love how Jeopardy makes knowledge fun to attain, and when you watch these absolute shining personalities do well on the show, with their puns and snappy quips, it’s top-notch entertainment.

I don’t know what it says about me, but I think there’s a bit of predictability to my watching Jeopardy. When I was back home in Singapore, my six family members in the household knew I would always spend some time watching Jeopardy, before or after work, or on my off days from work. It felt safe to me, and perhaps it signified a certain safety to them, as well, that I am a creature of habit and I love my routine. I don’t know for sure. Sometimes, my sisters would also watch it with me, and I used it to bond with them a little, although I don’t think they ever really enjoyed the show as much as I did, because I never see them watching it if I’m not.

Of all the reality shows that exist, Queer Eye is one of the best, in my opinion. Again, what it says about me is possibly that I’m actually optimistic and romantic under all my cynicism. It’s nice to see people who are deserving receive a makeover that, more often than not, really improves their entire lives. I have a problem with the premise of Queer Eye, in that I am much too politically radical, to really actually buy into it. I think there are far more people in America that are struggling and that they cannot all be helped by Queer Eye, and it’s because the systems and infrastructures are making it that way. I think, to really help America, the country needs a systemic change, that doesn’t allow capitalism, racism, classism, nationalism and all the -isms to marginalise entire populations of people.

However, for that hour or so, it is nice to see that given the right amount of help (tens of thousands of dollars in the making), and the right kind of help, even people in the most dire of places can turn their lives around. Now, if only we could provide tens of thousands of dollars to everyone in America, by taking it from the ultra-rich. I would watch that show. Focusing on Queer Eye, though, I think it succeeds at what it sets out to do, which is to make a candidate feel good about themselves, and in turn, becomes a feel-good TV show for the audience.

The Good Place is my favorite TV show of all time. What I like about it is it introduces the viewers to the tiny, basic gists of philosophy and ethics, and that allows the audience to decide if they want to learn more. Generally, philosophy hasn’t been accessible to mass communities and has been gatekept by and for old, white men, so to see such information being included in an entertainment show, for anyone to watch, is heartening.

Even within the content of The Good Place, it acknowledges and contends with the fact that the world is extremely unjust and unbalanced, that results in it being impossible to judge anyone fairly. The ending of the show is a typically good and nicely-wrapped-up ending, and the two protagonists whom you’d naturally root for, end up together, for eternity. This, again, shows my romantic side. Apart from that, I do think what I’d like the show to say about me, is that I’m thoughtful, pensive, that I care about other people, and would like everyone to receive what they truly deserve.

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