based in melbourne, australia, sophie welsh is a postgraduate journalism student with a bachelors degree in science. her interests include politics, current events, and pop culture.

What TV has taught me

I love television. During my formative years, I think that television had a greater impact on me than my parents even did. Don’t tell them I said that.

1. THE FUTURE IS SCARY BUT A GOOD KIND OF SCARY

The final scene of  Scrubs

The final scene of Scrubs

Oh lord. Y’know how you’re like ‘oh yeah that’s like, my favourite show’ about a whole bunch of shows? But then there’s one show that’s like yep that’s my absolute unequivocal death-match favourite? Well Scrubs is mine. I’m pretty sure my entire sense of humour is the result of Scrubs. And even though Scrubs is a comedy, it’s punctuated by moments of real humanity and emotion. For me, the most meaningful and powerful moment of Scrubs’ entire 8 (we’re ignoring the spin-off ok?) season run is the final scene of the final episode of season 8. There’s an absolutely gorgeous scene where the main character watches as scenes of his future play out in his mind as he leaves to start a new job. It’s an incredibly powerful scene that taught me that endings are a perfectly natural feature of life, and that the even though it’s hard to move on from comfort and routine, the challenges of the future are immensely rewarding and exciting. It also sent me into a shameful Peter Gabriel binge, but much like Scrubs season 9, let’s not talk about that.

2. DON’T BE AN IDIOT – KNOW YOUR LIMITS

Comatose Lisa in  The Saddle Club.

Comatose Lisa in The Saddle Club.

Despite its many, many flaws (half the cast was Canadian and yet their accents were never commented on nor explained? Were we simply supposed to just accept that Pine Hollow was an Australio-Canadian melting pot?) this episode had quite the emotional impact on eight-year-old me. Poor Lisa. All she wanted to do was to be able to jump a very high jump, as a wedding present for Max and Deb. For the designated ‘smart girl’ of the Saddle Club, Lisa was devoid of logic. The jump was too big. Max knew that. Stevie and Carol knew that. Eight-year-old me knew that. Even the horse Prancer knew that. Yet Lisa still persisted, and ended up falling off and braining herself on the ground. This resonated with eight-year-old me, as I vowed to never get on a horse, but also to break down goals into smaller, more achievable steps rather than going all at once and ending up in hospital. See, Lisa’s a dud - I would’ve been the smart one of the Saddle Club girls. Despite the idiocy of the whole set-up, the repercussions her short-lived coma had on those around her taught me that times of immense sadness are also times that unite people. Even that revolting antagonist Veronica reassessed her actions and vowed to stop being such a sneaky lil jerk.

3. TREAT YO’ SELF

A life-changing episode of  Parks and Recreation.

A life-changing episode of Parks and Recreation.

Have you ever wanted to by something but were paralysed by guilt and indecision? Do you moan and complain about capitalism but also secretly love shopping? Do you sometimes forget to take care of yourself and do something just for you? If so, then you need to watch this episode. It taught me that it’s normal and acceptable to want materialistic goods, and that happiness and fulfilment can be found through purchases. There’s no point slaving away in a capitalist state without enjoying its perks, and I’d like to thank Parks and Rec for teaching me this.

4. BIRGITTE BREAKS DOWN

Borgen 's warning about sacrificing yourself for your family and career.

Borgen's warning about sacrificing yourself for your family and career.

This list wouldn’t be complete with arguably the greatest female television character of all time. Sometimes I forget that Birgitte Nyborg isn’t real, and isn’t in fact the Prime Minister of Denmark. What makes Birgitte so accessible and realistic is the fact that she has so many flaws, and that those flaws come to the surface suddenly and with devastating consequences given her position. What stood out to me about this scene was that Birgitte was trying so hard to be the strong, stoic and invulnerable woman that everyone constantly expects her to be. She was taking on so many things and not allowing anyone else to help shoulder her burdens, as she didn’t want to appear weak. But in doing so the pressure continued to build up and things started to slip through the cracks in her façade. Birgitte’s breakdown this episode showed that constantly striving to be self-reliant and solitary has devastating repercussions on a person’s wellbeing. This scene was an exceptional study into public expectations of famous females, and taught me that even the most formidable women have moments of weakness and that’s OK.

 5. WHY DOES EVERYONE LEAVE ME?

Matt grapples with abandonment on  Friday Night Lights.

Matt grapples with abandonment on Friday Night Lights.

Full disclosure: I started crying exactly 1 minute into the first episode of Friday Night Lights, but I don’t think I’ve ever cried harder than at this scene. Despite it being a part of the worst season of FNL (fuck you, Writers Guild of America Strike 2007), this episode had enough emotional angst to sustain me for the entire season. Watching as the stoic quarterback Matt Saracen breaks down in the shower could break even the stoniest of hearts. Poor Matt had been left by nearly everyone he's ever loved, leading to crippling frustration and anxiety about himself, surmising that he must be wholly unlovable. It showed that even if you feel like everyone has left you, there are always still people who love you and accept you for who you are. It proved that even if you’re feeling lonely, you’re not alone. Matt showed that it’s OK to have moments of weakness and insecurity, and that your family doesn’t have to be genetic.  

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