TV Shows You Can’t Completely Veg Out On

If you’re like me, weekends and breaks are spent lying in bed, laptop opened to Netflix, with snacks an arm’s reach away. After finishing a test or during a time I am stressfully avoiding studying, I turn to mindless TV shows. However, after a few hours or even days of not moving, my eyes start to hurt and my brain slows down and turns into a mush of unintelligent thoughts. Everything I learned over the quarter tends to drift out of my mind and is replaced with the antics of the Dunphy/Pritchett/Delgado families. Giving up Netflix binge watching is not something I’m prepared to do, but there are some shows out there that make you think about something other than where Will from Stranger Things disappeared to. Here’s a list of TV shows that make you think and contemplate some grander ideas than just what Rory is going to do now that she’s pregnant or if Jim and Pam are ever going to get together (spoiler alert: they do). Don’t get me wrong, these are still highly addictive shows and you’ll still be relaxing and ignoring other responsibilities; they just make you think a little bit more about life.

1. Black Mirror

This futuristic show takes on the interesting challenge of creating a new storyline and cast for each one hour episode. However, each mini story focuses on the dangers of technology and how it has come to control the characters’ lives in each seemingly fictional tale. For example, one episode tells the story of a young women living in a world where people rate each other throughout each interaction and actively tries to improve her score by faking niceness and going out of her way to try and get more ratings. Seems a little like an out of control version of followers and likes on Instagram huh? This show makes viewers think about technology in their own lives and if the path they are taking regarding how they let it impact their lives is dangerous.

2. Orange is the New Black

By now, most people have heard of or seen this show, but its unapologetic, blunt depiction of racism, sexism, and problems within the prison system earns it a spot on this list. This show follows the story of women in a Women’s Prison and the brutal hardships they face everyday and the struggles that landed them in lockup. Viewers can’t help but feel pity for even the worst of characters and it compels people to realize the good and bad balance (or imbalance) in people and large issues that face our country today.

3. West Wing

This political drama tells the spectacles within the West Wing of the White House, where the oval office and presidential staff are located. It follows the characters and their work on legislative and political agendas, while still sliding in witty comments and personal problems. The show tackles different political issues and gives viewers an inside scoop on how this part of the White House works and all the background work that goes into helping bills and other legislation pass.  It drives audiences to think about political systems and how much effort and teamwork it takes to get things in such an important place done. The fast walk and talk style of the characters dialogue guarantees that one won’t be able to space out during the episode.

4. The 100

While this show does embody more teen angst and drama than the others, its plot of 100 children being sent to earth to make sure the planet is safe for other humans that have lived in outer space since the planet had become uninhabitable allows viewers to think about the ethics of sacrifice and control. 100 kids living together while trying to survive the unknown, new challenges this version of earth throws at them, results in moral reflection about the paths the characters in this drama face. This show causes those watching to wonder what they would do in such complicated circumstances.

5. West World

This show takes place in Wild West theme park people can pay to visit that is filled with mechanical people that are unbelievably human-like that act in story lines. The theme park is a place where visitors can discover themselves, play along in the many different games in this world, or just do whatever they want to. These paying guests and creators feel connections with the fake cast or “hosts” of West World, bringing up the question as to what makes a person real and have true consciousness. These episodes implore its viewers to think about the qualifications it takes to be “real” and how one is able to recognize their true self.

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