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“TV helped me value different perspectives”
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“TV helped me value different perspectives”

The casual entertainment of sitcoms became something much more for Tahiya Islam, 23, a Correspondent from Dhaka in Bangladesh, as she examined the lessons to be found in the characters and their interaction with each other.

To a large crowd of today’s generation, TV sitcoms play an important source of entertainment. I am no exception to this. But with time, I realised that I have learnt deeper aspects of life and relationships from these sitcoms, aside from enjoying them as recreational sources. These days, I encourage my peers to choose sitcoms so that they can understand various aspects of life from different points of views.

One may ask, how did I learn about aspects of life and relationships from sitcoms with far-fetched story lines, exaggerated characterisations and, sometimes, entirely illogical explanations? Let’s find out how!

While writing about sitcoms, I must start with Friends! It first aired when I was one year old and I started watching it exactly 21 years after its first air time! What this sitcom made me realise was that it not only had puns, references, jokes and sexual innuendo, but it also dealt with and discussed various raw human emotions, expressions, moral and ethical values, friendship, love and peculiar quirks.

The six major characters of the show represented six different human beings who possess a broad spectrum of emotions and layers in their characters. Despite being a sitcom, it touched my heart with its raw, honest and somewhat crazy moments. Joey’s loyalty for his friends, Phoebe’s carefree take on life, Monica’s responsible nature, Chandler’s fun-loving aura, Ross’s devotion toward relationships and Rachel’s ambition to become independent- all gave me valuable lessons to prepare for my adult life. It also provided with a reality check that one person cannot possess all of these qualities and that is why human beings require friends, mates, acquaintances and partners to survive in this world.

The show highlighted how fulfilling it can feel if a person learns to give more and take less. The episode where Phoebe decides to be the surrogate for her brother’s baby showed that love means doing something unconditionally for your deeply beloved person, without expecting anything – or sometimes even expecting pain in return.

The episode where Ross lets go of all his remaining feelings and becomes the Best Man for his ex-wife so that she and her partner can perform a lesbian marriage showed that love has no boundaries and people can fall in love, irrespective of gender. They should neither be questioned nor be ashamed of it.

Chandler and Monica’s relationship showed how two people can completely fit like puzzle pieces with their individual ethics, values, beliefs and quirks, and become life partners from being best friends. There were several episodes where Joey’s loyalty to friendship was massively highlighted, along with Rachel’s need to become a self-dependent human being.

Underneath the comedy genre, this show touched some major social issues as well, starting from broadcasting same-sex marriage in a TV series to showing the different forms of motherhood through Phoebe (surrogacy), Rachel (single parent) and Monica (adoption).

When I analysed the layers and depth of the story line and the characters, I genuinely learnt a lot. I now know that I am not always right about everything. I know that a situation can be easily handled by understanding another person’s point of view. I now believe in the saying, “speak less and listen more.” I have broad understanding of social injustices and problems, and how each of us can minimise these injustices by wearing other people’s shoes.

The next sitcom that overflowed my heart and brain with emotion and perspective is How I Met Your Mother. To many, this sitcom seemed to be a copied version of Friends, and that’s understandable because of resemblance in some of the stories. Apart from that, this sitcom has raised concerns around some serious issues that can affect the healthy upbringing of a human being.

Barney Stinson’s character has precisely portrayed how a person feels abandoned when s/he does not get a proper childhood; a parent’s care and affection. It elaborately discusses the repercussions that come with abandonment. False belief, denial, lying, and fear of commitment  as a result of being abandoned.have been expressed in Barney’s character from time to time.

This sitcom emphatically and consistently shows the importance of love and loyalty towards the loved ones through Ted’s character. The belief that I can have unconditional love for someone apart from my parents; the thought that I can feel for someone so deeply that I will be happy with that person’s happiness, even if it does not include me; the fact that happiness lies in giving and expecting nothing in return – all these have given me massive life lessons.

If today I understand even a little bit about other people’s feelings and perceptions, it is because of the sitcoms that I have watched, followed and loved.

Reach me on Twitter@TahiyaIslam or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/islamtahiya

photo credit: psiconauta Forget the big picture via photopin (license)

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About me: I am currently doing my Master degree in Pharmacology and Toxicology from Universiti Putra Malaysia. Besides my studies, I’m working part time at the EasyUni Education Agency.

I want to pursue teaching as my profession. I have a passion for writing and public speaking. I consider writing as one my strengths and would like to explore that area in the near future. I strongly believe in women empowerment and work with a couple of women empowerment organizations.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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