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The Art of Watching TV

The best part about being in film school is that when I'm binge-watching the new season of Riverdale, or catching up on Jane the Virgin, I get to say that I'm doing "research". Gone are my days of what I've come to call "entertainment guilt".

Entertainment guilt, is simply the phenomenon of feeling shame for sitting down and watching a television show or movie. This shame is caused by the internal knowledge that you should be running an errand, going to the gym, doing something, anything more productive. But is that really true?

We are so busy as a culture, that we physically have forgotten how to relax (for more on this topic read Olga Mecking's article on "The Case for Doing Nothing"). And the phones in front of our faces haven't made it easier. With the world literally in the palm of your hand, there's always somebody to talk to, something to read, a picture to like, and so on.

But do you ever have time just to be? Many of us don't. Even more of us think that this necessary "time to be" involves journaling, or staring out the window contemplating life, but this isn't true.

That's right. It is possible to unplug without turning off (all) your screens. The reason being, watching TV actually has some health benefits.

The first benefit is intellectual. Being in what is currently known as the golden age of TV, television has gotten better. The characters are witty, the jokes are smart, and we have to work to figure them out, thus turning watching from a passive existence to something much more active. Yes, many experts believe that television has the power to make us smarter. However, this does not occur with passive viewing, meaning that if the show is playing in the background while you clean, text, or check your email, then you can kiss intellectual benefit goodbye. To watch actively you must give the viewing your undivided attention, something that is becoming increasingly hard to do, especially for younger generations.

If undivided attention is an issue for you, we urge you to mindfully practice it, because the second benefit of active television viewing is stress relief. By actively watching, we can be transported into the world of a story that feels real, escaping whatever stressors may be pressing upon our own lives. Through these stories we live an emotional experience. An emotional experience that we can then share with other viewers of the same show. TV allows us to sit back, relax, and connect with our fellow human beings, all within the comfort of our own home.

So next time you feel guilty about enjoying your favorite shows, don't. Kick entertainment guilt to the curb and tell that voice in your head that it's wrong because watching TV is actually good for you! In moderation of course.

You deserve time for yourself, and what better way to spend it than hanging out with your favorite characters? If this has inspired you to find a new story to fall in love with, look no further, because we've got you covered. Tune in to CW11 every night, or check out our app to binge watch your favorite shows.

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