HomeTelevisionCouch Potato #4 – Reviewing Your Television Diet

Couch Potato #4 – Reviewing Your Television Diet

With most of us spending an increased amount of time in our homes the past month, binge watching/streaming has become the primary source of entertainment and escapism for many. Our levels of television consumption have skyrocketed or, at the very least, taken on newfound importance. As we continue to satiate our need for distraction and leisure via a variety of screens, it is more important than ever to be mindful of what we’re consuming and how it affects us. In the hopes of maintaining a healthy television diet, then, it’s time to review our tastes and preferred cuisine among the ever-growing smorgasbord of television/streaming options. 

Comfort Food: Some meals provide us with a sense of warmth and contentment. They may stick to our ribs and leave a satisfied smile on our face for the rest of the day. Think of classics like baked mac and cheese, biscuits and gravy, and dinosaur chicken nuggets. These dishes may not be the most nutritious, but they are undoubtedly food for the soul. 

Shows that fall under this category include feel-good, heartwarming series like Parks and Rec, The Great British Bake Off, children’s programming, and nostalgic favorites. These shows may not be the most cerebral, but they are incredibly satisfying and a pleasure to consume. When real life is difficult, “comfort food” shows help us to laugh and cry, to recognize the beauty in life, and distract us from our struggles. 

While it is not necessarily bad to only consume food from this category, you may want to consider balancing your diet with other shows that are more intellectually stimulating and programs that keep you grounded in the real world. 

Fast Food: Sometimes you want something quick to eat that won’t break the bank and will pack plenty of flavor. Sure, the food may not be the most nutritious, but you’ll likely scarf it down and enjoy every bite. You may not want to think too much about what goes into making these meals. This category includes the burgers, fries, and other greasy finger food you get from fast food restaurants. 

Reality TV shows are the best example of this brick in the tv-food pyramid. Other items on this menu include anything created by Seth MacFarlane and anything that resembles Tiger King. These shows are your go-to guilty pleasures. You may not get any mental, emotional, or spiritual enrichment from them, but they will be fun to watch and discuss with friends. While people may criticize the quality of this category, these shows provide a useful diversion from the stressors of daily life, a heaping helping of laughter, and a few jaw drops. 

If you find yourself drawn to this corner of the cafeteria, you should consider trying some shows outside of your comfort zone. You’ll likely benefit from broadening your palate and consuming something more enriching. 

Fine Cuisine: When your budget can handle it, you may want to indulge in meals made from the finest ingredients and made by the greatest chefs. The aromas, flavors, and textures of these feasts will blow you away. Some dishes may include elements you’ve never had before or would previously raise an eyebrow at, but you’ll be rewarded for exploring new items on the menu. Just keep in mind that sticking with this category alone may not be the most financially responsible choice. 

Television shows from this category include dramas that sweep award season and are critical darlings. Think of shows like Mad Men, The Wire, or Hannibal. These shows may not be the easiest to get into and may not have the fastest pace, but they will challenge you in exciting new ways. “Fine cuisine” shows weave a tapestry of powerful performances, lights-out writing, and incredible production quality. With any luck, these series will change the way that you view television, the world, and even yourself. 

They can come at a cost though; while they have the opportunity to be cathartic and thought-provoking, they may leave you emotionally and mentally drained. Weighty themes and sobering subjects may burn you out if you overindulge. Consider something more comforting and heartwarming if you find your spirit growing heavy and your wallet feeling light. 

Salad: Staying in touch with the real-world is important. Watching the news may not be the most entertaining or satisfying experience, but staying grounded and well-informed is important for your safety and welfare. Reliable, fact-based television journalism is the incredibly healthy salad of pop culture diets. Though you may not enjoy eating kale and other leafy greens, you know these foods are nutritious and necessary. As much as you may want to fully unplug from the real-world during these difficult times, you should regard this category as a staple in your diet and continue to consume it in moderation. 

Food for Thought: While I would classify the aforementioned categories as the main food groups of television, the list is by no means exhaustive. Just as chefs are only limited by the ingredients available to them and their imaginations, television networks and streaming services can offer viewers a never-ending buffet of options. And just as there is no universal diet right for everyone, viewers are free to discover their own flavor preferences and nutritional needs. As long as you are not indulging in programming that promotes toxic beliefs (please don’t confuse the cleaning supply closet with the kitchen pantry), the entire menu is open before you. But it pays to be mindful of what we’re consuming and find balance between what we enjoy and what we need. 

Josh Sarnecky
Josh Sarnecky
Josh Sarnecky is one of Pop Break's staff writers and covers Voltron: Legendary Defender, Game of Thrones, and Stranger Things. His brother, Aaron, also writes for the website, but Josh is the family’s reigning Trivial Pursuit: Star Wars champion.


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