Every night of the week there are new episodes of countless television shows. For many students, watching television is a community event. But what is it that makes watching television with others more fun? Can watching with other people build a sense of community in society’s T.V. cult(ure)?
“I think [watching T.V.] is more fun with other people,” said sophomore early childhood intervention specialist major Emily Gahagan. “If I was by myself, I probably wouldn’t even get into it.”
Gahagan would gather with her friends on Monday nights to watch new episodes of The Bachelor before the season ended.
“On Monday nights, we would go over to Heritage to my friend’s room and [she, my roommate, and I] would watch it and usually make food,” Gahagan said.
For Gahagan and her friends, watching The Bachelor was a chance to bond and connect.
“We wouldn’t just talk about it on Mondays. We hung out and talked about it throughout the week,” Gahagan said.
Gahagan and her friends aren’t the only students on campus making connections and bonding over their favorite television shows.
Sophomore exercise science major John Parrish and freshman political science and philosophy double major Chris Dugan often get together with other friends in the lower Barclay lounge on Sunday nights to watch The Walking Dead.
“Typically, it’s the same people [that watch] every week,” Dugan said.
Dugan and Parrish said watching television shows with other people helps to build community.
“If you’re with other people that you may not know, you can strike up a conversation about something that happened after the show,” Parrish said.
Not only can watching T.V. strengthen pre-existing relationships, it can also help form new ones.
Students aren’t the only ones on campus who are able to connect with others via television shows. Professor of communication arts Ann Lawson has been a fan of The Walking Dead since the show first aired.
“It reminded me of Lost, especially the first season,” Lawson said. “It is an interesting study of human nature; of people in perilous and stressful situations and then what choices they make.”
Lawson does not watch The Walking Dead with other people, but she talks about the show with her students that watch it too.
Lawson can relate to watching television shows with others. She spent much of her high school and college years watching shows like Cheers with her friends and family.
“I get the concept of college-aged students rallying around a particular show together and watching it in community, because I did that in both high school and college,” Lawson said.
Lawson challenged the idea of what community truly means and brought up the possibility of multiple kinds of community.
“What is community?” Lawson said. “Watching it together is one thing, talking about it is another. But there’s also what’s become this social media community of people following on Twitter or Facebook.”
Whether you’re watching a show with your friend by your side or discussing the climactic moments via social media, there is no doubt that community can be built over television shows.
Sydney Redmon is a contributing writer for The Aviso AVW.