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TV Shows and their Educational Impact

TV shows have been reiterating the experiences, trends and cultures of people over the years. We all have our favourite TV shows that keep us glued to the screen and crying over their cliffhangers when an episode or season ends. Not only do most TV shows entertain us, they also educate us on particular subjects, especially social issues we often relate to in our lived realities. Below are my favourite TV shows, both international and local as well as the kind of messages they preach.

BLACK-ISH (USA)

Not only does Black-ish have a stellar cast, its witticism can turn your mood from cranky to cheerful in no time. This show is successful in portraying the most controversial and often unspoken of social issues in an eye-opening manner, with humour added to the mix. It touches on racism, African American history and culture, police brutality, gender roles, postpartum depression et cetera. It is also great because it embodies the phrase ‘representation matters’ through the Johnsons who are a black upper-middle-class family, something we haven’t seen in mainstream international television since the Huxtables.

GROWN-ISH (USA)

A spin-off from Black-ish, it is no surprise that Grown-ish made it to my list. If you are currently a college student or a young adult, you are most likely to relate more to this show. It is centred around the life of Zoey Johnson, the eldest child of the Johnson family in Black-ish as she navigates her new found freedom and journey into adulthood at California University. Grown-ish is a modern show which educates us to be culturally ‘woke’. It is comprised of a leading diverse cast representing minority groups such as Hispanics, LGBTQ+ and African Americans. It shows us how to deal with typical college hurdles such as friendships, relationships, drugs, sex and how to balance all this with books. In the words of Luka Sabbat’s character Luca, ‘people need to be more comfortable with feeling uncomfortable’ which kind of sums up every college experience.

OUR PERFECT WEDDING AKA OPW (SOUTH AFRICA)

Many people in our generation have stopped watching local television shows due to the availability of cable television and streaming services such as Netflix and Showmax. OPW is a show locally made for audiences to show how South Africans and other Africans celebrate a marital union. It educates us on the traditions and cultures of various South African tribes and showcases the steps taken in preparation for a wedding in South Africa. OPW is important in preserving and teaching people about traditions and cultures that shape who we are as Africans. The show has also hosted gay couples which is important in educating people about diverse sexualities in the country and continent as a whole and teaches us to be more accepting of one another by celebrating all people’s weddings.

THE QUEEN (SOUTH AFRICA)

The Queen is a TV show depicting the lives of the drug dealing Khozas and their rival drug-dealing family, the Mabuzas. The show is important in defying patriarchy through the lead character Harriet Khoza who rules her household over her husband’s brother and her sons, and Gracious Mabuza, who is also the head of her family. These two black queens who run the show are an example that women can hold positions at the top of the power chain. The show also represents the gay community through characters like Kgosi, Harriet’s gay brother and Prince, Harriet’s assistance. The Queen recently showed Harriet’s daughter Kea being physically abused by her fiancé. At the end of each episode with the disturbing violence on Kea, the soap made evident its educational intent of those scenes against women abuse with its reference to POWA, which stands for the South African NGO People Opposing Women Abuse.  

LAW AND ORDER SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT (USA)

Legal shows are very important in teaching us young folks about the law and its complexities. Shows like The Good Wife, Drop Dead Diva and Suits teach us about crimes, how they are dealt with in the court of law and their circumstances. Other legal TV shows educate us on the investigations of crimes and most importantly help us to understand modern social and political matters we face in real life. Law and Order Special Victims Unit specifically deals with the investigation of sexual crimes, child abuse and offences against senior citizens. Watching this show keeps the conversations about crime in our societies alive and shows us how they can be dealt with. It educates us about the detailed procedures taken in the investigations of crime, helping communities to know and understand their rights and how people can get justice when they find themselves being victimised.

I am a University of Cape Town graduate. I take pride in being African. I am easily inspired by things that shake my spirit, make me feel untouchable as a woman and fulfilled in my blackness. I love words and doing research. I frequently explore pieces of enticing writing, especially exquisitely written fiction
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