We’ve all felt guilty about watching TV instead of studying. “I’ll open my textbook after this episode,” you promise yourself, and four episodes later you’ve forgotten you even had an exam coming up. We’re here to ease your guilt by pointing out some TV shows that are basically textbooks. In these cases, binge watching them is the same thing as studying… right?
1. Breaking Bad – Chemistry 101
Breaking Bad’s protagonist, Walter White, starts out as a high school chemistry teacher, so you already have an instructor for this course. When he’s diagnosed with lung cancer, Walter starts to make and sell methamphetamine with one of his students. This drama offers its viewers many lessons about both life and chemistry. “It’s all about forming bonds,” says Chelsea, a junior at the University of Rochester, “whether they be friends, families, ionic, covalent…”
Along the way, you get an appreciation for the role science plays in society. “It shows that chemistry has real-world applications,” says Chelsea. “Meth.”
Of course, we don’t condone Walter’s illicit behavior, but we do encourage you to listen for the facts about chemistry that are sprinkled throughout the show. “I’ve only seen the first season of Breaking Bad, but I’ve learned that hydrochloric acid must be put in plastic, not any other material, or it will melt your floor,” says Patricia, a junior at the University of Rochester.
Review Question: What does “Br Ba” stand for?
Answer: Breaking Bad! (No, not “Bromine Barium.” That would be too elementary.)
2. Arrested Development – Intro to Business Economics
One of the basic assumptions of economics is people are driven by incentives. If they have something to gain by doing something, they’ll do it, and if they do something, it’s because they gain something from it. Arrested Development is the textbook example of this: most of the main characters are terrible people who are driven by selfish motivations.
The show follows the family behind the Bluth Company, a real estate development firm that loses everything when the CEO, George Bluth, is arrested for fraud. The family must figure out how to maintain their lucrative lifestyle by upholding the family company while George is in prison. This series is basically a lesson in how to run a business.
Here are some business tips we’ve learned from the show:
- Don’t burn down your banana stand if that’s where your money is.
- Don’t let your irresponsible brother take over the company.
- Don’t build a company based on software you haven’t created.
Okay, so maybe this show is just a lesson in what not to do. As Elyssa, a chapter advisor for Her Campus, says, “A major business lesson from Arrested Development is to make a good product and work hard to make the millions! No one wants to have to live in the attic like George Sr. hiding from the government for making shady business deals!”
Review Question: If you fail this class, what will your friends call you?
Answer: Mr. F.