Did F.R.I.E.N.D.S. have a negative influence on us? Do TV shows affect our mindset?

Last Update on July 21, 2021 : Published on July 21, 2021
Do tv shows affect our mind set

Other than working and sleeping, watching TV takes up most of our time. In this golden era of television, is our mindset being influenced by the TV shows we watch?  Is our TV show presenting our mannerisms or is our mannerism presenting the TV show?

Have you ever noticed when you come out of a movie theater or finish watching a show, you begin to behave in a manner that is similar to your favorite character? I have, for sure! I behaved like the character Jane Slone from the show ‘The Bold Type’ for days together.

There is no denying the fact that watching our favorite TV shows is fun. The entertainment industry is working really hard to provide us with all kinds of entertainment. Whether it is romance, comedy, action, horror, reality shows, shorts, you name it and you’ll have it!

ALSO READ: Understanding Mental Health Disorders through Childhood Animated Characters

Have you ever heard of the phrase “It’s not a TV show, it’s real-life” while you’re trying to solve a problem? Have you ever wondered where this is coming from?

We are heavily influenced by what we watch on our TV screens daily. Not only adults, children too can be influenced by what they watch on TV.

Curious to know more? Let’s see how watching TV shows affects our mindset…

The Influence TV shows can have on us…

1. Aggression.

There are so many shows that have scenes showing aggression in them. It’s not very hard to find violence in a show. According to a study people even before tuning 18 have witnessed all kinds of violence. When people watch violence on TV it results in desensitizing people. Because of which people may start to practice violence.

Children are not quite aware of what’s right or wrong. When they watch violence on their shows they start to believe that violence is okay.

2. Language.

Different shows use language as a medium to connect with most of its audience. To sound ‘cool’ and ‘fun’ they use jargon and slang. They do it for entertainment purposes but we often begin to use those slangs in our day to day conversations. This change in our language can make us seem very inappropriate. Although it is an unconscious change, we can struggle to replace an appropriate synonym for that slang.

3. Live in a bubble.

Are you someone who is always watching some show or the other? Has it ever happened to you that you’re so into the show that you ignore everything? You lose track of time, no news update, don’t realize when your roommate came or left. You start to live in a parallel world.

You always think about the characters and the plot twist of the show. This, my dear friend, is living in a bubble! Such behavior can have a negative impact on your health, relationships, studies and life in general.

4. Injurious habits.

Most of the shows that I’ve watched there is at least one character who indulges in either smoking, drinking or is doing drugs. Half the credit of normalizing such injurious behavior goes to TV shows.

No matter how against it may be of your value system, you’re still drawn to it. Most of the shows glorify this behavior. If there is a character that doesn’t indulge in such behavior they are either considered nerd, boring or up tight.

And don’t even ask me about their ‘becoming cool’ process… You all know what it is!

5. Toxic belief in happy endings.

For viewer’s satisfaction TV shows often have a happy ending (of course there are some exceptions). Happy endings in shows make us believe that we too will have a happy ending no matter what. TV shows are scripted, our lives are not!

Believing in a happy ending is good only till you are aware that the opposite has an equal chance of happening. Accepting that there is an equal of all kinds of endings is crucial in leading a balanced life. You can have a happy, sad, compromised or any kind of ending for that matter.

6. Lose your identity.

A friend of mine was so obsessed with a character on a show that she transformed herself exactly like the character. When you like a character there are chances that you will want to become like that character.

In the process, we lose our own identity and wear a filter that is identical to the character we like. We duplicate the character’s likes, dislikes, dressing sense, body language and every single thing.

Having said that, there are some positive influences from watching TV series too!

  • Educational. There are so many shows that focus on teaching various skills. These shows have a positive impact on you and promote learning.
  • Stress reliever. There are some light-hearted shows that do not follow a sequence. You can pick up any episode and watch. Such shows help you take a break from your daily routine and frees you of stress and relaxes the mind.
  • Boosts Creativity. Shows that bring out your creative side really helps build your cognition. Shows like these promote productivity and we don’t end up becoming a couch potato.

ALSO READ: The Effects of Smartphones on the Brain

Let’s try to understand it with an example. The famous sitcom F.R.I.E.N.D.S. has not lost its popularity even today. The only thing that has changed now is that we are able to identify the problematic bits.

Did F.R.I.E.N.D.S. trick us into believing bad behavior is okay?

There are so many stereotypes shown in the show. The show has and is continuing to influence a lot of young minds. The portrayal of women and ridiculing chandler’s father for his sexual preference are a few things that now do not seem funny. Let’s look at a few scenes from the show…

1. The one where Ross cheats.

Ross is a big time cheater! We can all agree to that. In the show Ross has cheated more than any other character. The show influenced many people into believing that cheating is not a big deal. Ross cheated on both Bonnie and Julie!

The show lets people believe that it’s okay to cheat till you find someone you really love. “We were on a break!”  I was really angry at Ross. Strangely, I wasn’t angry at Ross when he cheated on Bonnie and Julie. Did the show want us to feel differently about both situations?

2. The one where women are objectified and poorly portrayed.

Joey reduces women to ‘ice creams’. Is that what the show was aiming to put out in the world? Most women in joey’s life are shown as sex objects. When Rachel’s sisters are shown in the show one is a sex object and the other is a rich, spoilt, dumb blonde.

They have even mocked being like a woman. Ross in the thanksgiving episode doesn’t want to lose to a GIRL!

3. The one where sexual assault is laughed at.

When Pablo assaults Phoebe it is laughed at. Did they want us to believe that this is ‘making a move’? Imagine having someone grab your butt while you are trying to work. Is that what making a move looks like!

4. The one where Chandler’s father is ridiculed for his preference.

When chandler denounces his transgender father is beyond unacceptable. Did the show really want to fuel this kind of behavior?  The discomfort that is shown regarding sexual orientation and preference in the show is ridiculous. “Can we get our drinks please, waiter – uh, -tress!” That’s what Chandler said!

5. The one where the size of your body matters.

Monica had a crush on Chandler even when she was big in size but gets Chandler only when she is skinny. Fat- shaming young Monica was shown many times in the show. Did they want us to believe that we need to be a particular size to find love?

6. The one where Phoebe flashes her breasts.

Phoebe flashes to the boy to win the match. What were they trying to say? Women can achieve things easily when they use their bodies? Or was it trying to say that men lose all power when it comes to a woman’s body.

7. The one where Rachel hires an eye candy.

Rachel hires an unqualified assistant only because she likes his butt! I don’t have words to explain how problematic that is. Imagine what impact it must have had on people watching this show.

8. The one where Ross wants the Barbie to go away.

Ross has difficulty digesting the fact that his son wants to play with a Barbie. He tries hard to get rid of Barbie because he thinks ‘it’s not a boy’s thing to play with’. Now toys are discriminated against on the basis of gender too? Neither gender can play with others’  toys?

These are only a few examples of what influence the show must have had on the people religiously following it. Like F.R.I.E.N.D.S. There are various other TV shows that might have had some influence on its audience.

Food for thought…

TV shows can have a significant influence on our mindset. The way we think and the process can be highly altered by the content we watch. TV shows have great power. But with great power comes great responsibility.

Choosing what to watch and control the extent of influence it has on you will make all the difference.

I hope this blog helped you realize the hold that TV shows can have on us. Do comment down below and tell us about other TV shows that had an influence on your mindset.

For more such content, connect with us on all social media platforms.

Take care! Stay safe!

About The Author

Kirti Bhati
Kirti Bhati

I am an English literature (major) and psychology (minor) graduate from St. Bede’s College, Shimla. Postgraduate in Clinical psychology from IIS University, Jaipur. She has published a Research paper on Music therapy in the military population and Workplace stress in a national seminar conducted by Fortis hospital (gurugram) and international seminar conducted by St. Bede’s College, Shimla, Respectively. Authored a dissertation work on ‘effect of social media addiction on the mental and physical well-being in adolescents’ Currently working at calm sage as a writer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

As Seen On