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Reel life lessons: Things we learned from TV

By Maia Marquez Published Jun 10, 2022 5:00 am

I’ve been watching Friends over and over for as long as I can remember. Often my go-to for when I want to de-stress, the show never made me think about how much my life mirrored it, or how much it mirrored my life. At least until recently.

When the pandemic came coupled with my quarter-life crisis, I turned to my television Friends more than my real-life ones (the lockdown gave me no choice!): I saw how Rachel navigated from not knowing anything about adulting to thriving in her career, how Monica un-lucked then lucked out in love, and how Phoebe lived life to the beat of her own drum and nobody else’s.

It’s through their stories that I never really felt alone in my struggles anymore. More importantly, Friends taught me to believe: we all have our own timelines, so I should live life according to mine. 

Surely I’m not the only one who’s been given validation, comfort, and life lessons by a TV show. So Young STAR asked what learnings others have picked up from television series and how these helped them have better outlooks on life: 

Feel Good

‘I’m not alone.’

As someone who identifies as a lesbian, I felt seen because the lead was just like me. That alone comforted me.

Mae Martin and Charlotte Ritchie 

I also loved seeing her messy bits, as it reminded me of my own. It taught me that yes, it’s okay to be a mess, you know how to clean up that mess, and you will do just that because you can. — Carla

The Nanny
‘It’s okay to figure life out along the way.’

Growing up, I didn’t have any concrete dreams for myself: I never had a doctor, lawyer, writer, or whatever phase. I just knew I liked talking to people and relating with them, but I felt like that wasn’t really a “talent.”

The Nanny also had no career goals, but was a very kind person who ended up changing a family’s life and her own too. And I hope I’m doing the same. —Bea M.

Grey’s Anatomy
‘Setbacks prepare us for major comebacks.’

I used to get really bad panic attacks at my previous job, and that became one of the major reasons why I left. I was scared to venture into a different job, because I thought that would trigger my panic attacks all over again.

I came across an episode where one of the characters went through the same thing, then gave up surgery. But when an out-of-hospital emergency happened, her instincts brought her to operate on the patient right then and there, and she realized how quickly it all came back to her.

I wanted the same to happen to me — and it did! I got back into the groove of working and eventually got promoted, too. —Ysobel

The Bold Type
‘Embrace change.’

During the pandemic, I struggled because I felt stuck in my career. As much as I loved my job, my team, and most especially my boss, I wanted change. Just like Jane — who tries to work for another magazine while freelancing, and then eventually comes back to the magazine — I went a different direction and am now set to pursue further studies (with the support of my mentor!). —Ericka

Bojack Horseman
‘Things happen for a reason.’

This show helped me understand why I went through a very painful breakup. It showed me the roles people have in our lives, how not all of them are meant to stay, and how that’s okay. 

Also, at the time I watched it, my diagnosed depression was at its peak, and the main character was going through the same thing. It felt good to have someone to relate to. —Jana

Gilmore Girls
‘Family matters.’

It reminds me that even when family situations aren’t the best, we’re stuck together forever, whether we like it or not. Watching the show can be cathartic, especially when family life doesn’t seem to be the greatest, because it tells me that in the end, it’ll all be okay. —Dan

Avatar: The Last Airbender
‘Understand people better.’

Apart from other mature topics, it was heavy on the concept of good and bad. It taught me that there’s more to what bad and good are; that morals, internal conflict, and context help us understand others and their intentions better. —Carina

Hospital Playlist
‘Be what the world needs.’

“I think there are three types of people in this world. First, those who are happiest when they are eating something good… Then there’s those who enjoy food the most when they are eating alone… Lastly there’s you. Seeing others enjoy food makes you happier than when you’re eating it yourself.” 

This is my favorite quote from the show because it taught me to be the kind of person the world needs: someone who lives in the moment, someone who practices care for themselves, and someone who brings compassion and empathy without expecting anything in return. —Bea A.

RuPaul’s Drag Race
‘Love myself.’

I never really fit into the conventional definition of “beautiful.” Just like the queens, I know hard work and determination can only get you so far. While I was never ashamed of how I looked and I never felt discouraged to chase opportunities, the show made me realize that I didn’t love myself that much.

The cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 10 

I had so much love to give, but I never bothered to leave any for myself. The show taught me to be a “me” I absolutely adore. Because if I can’t love myself, how the hell am I gonna love somebody else? —Sandy

The Good Place
‘I don’t have to be perfect.’

Chidi, Tahani, Eleanor, and Jason in "The Good Place."

I grew up in a very strict Catholic girls’ school where there was so much pressure to be perfect and not make mistakes. This isn’t a healthy way to look at life since you’re just living in fear and doing good to not be punished. 

The show taught me that as long as you’re trying to be better every day, that’s good enough! And if you screw up today, that’s okay, because you can try again tomorrow. —Jem