What it’s like being a television studies student

I never thought I would have to watch reality television for homework, but it sure is a fun experience. Being a television studies student is pretty cool, but you might not know what goes into it. In case you’re interested, I’ve listed some of my favorite parts of being a television studies grad student after finishing my first year in the program.

Watching A Lot of TV

With a television studies degree, obviously one of the main things you’ll be doing is watching TV. One of the big things you have to learn is to switch from passive viewing to a more analytical approach. 

In any television or film course, you learn about something called “mise-en-scène.” This concept is defined as “the arrangement of scenery and stage properties in a play” including the lighting, costumes, camera work, actors and how they interact and many other concepts of a setting on television. You, as a TV or film studies student, have to pay attention to these concepts and how they’re portrayed in the show you’re watching.

It can be hard to focus on all these concepts at once while thinking of the message it’s trying to convey until you get the hang of it, but it really makes you view television in a new way.

A Reality TV Class? Sign Me Up

You heard that right, I currently take a reality television class. This class dives through the different categories of reality TV, leaving no stone unturned. I get to learn about the different ways in which identity plays into reality TV such as gender, class and race. Something that caught my attention was how vastly different men’s vs women’s cooking shows are. Where women’s are more domestic-based, men’s are more competition-based.

Another cool aspect of the class is that we learn about some of the concepts that play into reality TV. For example, did you know that romance reality television is rooted in fairytale concepts we grew up with? 

Taking these television courses is really eye-opening and there’s so much to learn about something that we all do as a leisurely activity, even if that leisurely activity is binge-watching reality television shows.

Getting to Write About My Favorite Shows

My finals consisted of writing about some of my favorite shows like Euphoria and Big Sky. Like, how cool is that? I expect that there will be more opportunities for me to write about shows/genres that I like, but I feel like that’s the beauty of writing especially in a television studies program.

Going off of this topic, I also had to write about the competition reality television series Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team. This was a 15-page paper on a television trope that equate physical attractiveness to good qualities and unattractiveness to negative qualities and how that trope was prioritized over talent. It was fun because not only did I have to read a lot of research on the topic, but of course I was watching the show while doing so.

Exploring Potential Career Opportunities

I know I want to be a sports journalist. Like, this is what I was set out to do. However, it’s cool to be able to explore different opportunities in this degree program. I’m putting together all the skills I gained during my undergrad years and using it for my grad studies. It’s awesome to be able to take everything I’ve learned and apply it to different opportunities, especially in my program. With a TV studies degree, you can work anywhere basically in television. Being a screenwriter would also be a cool choice, but using this degree to get TV knowledge would be super helpful in my journalism career.

Lots of Reading and Writing

Besides the enjoyment of watching television, there is a lot of reading and writing in the course. Granted, it is a grad school degree program, so it’s a given that reading and writing are going to be a majority of what I do. I think it’s something that I’m still working on even though I enjoy both. There’s a lot of reading about older television shows like Survivor so don’t expect to read up on any current shows. However, you can bypass that by reading similar content – which is what I had to do for one final paper.

Always Having TV Recommendations

Each week in one of my classes, we would look at a screening of a particular TV show depending on the concept that we were learning about. Considering I don’t watch a lot of television and in fact watch reruns of my favorite shows, it’s exciting to be able to get new television recommendations. I’ll have you know – I have never seen The Simpsons until my television class, which says a lot.

If you’re looking for a sign to take a television or film studies class, or even take up an entire degree, this is it. It’s so fun and going to be a worthwhile program for me en route to my Master’s.

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