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Davis, California

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Variations on a Theme

Although I’ve been a student for 16 years now, I’ve been finding it increasingly difficult to actually buckle down and concentrate in my studies.

Procrastination isn’t my number one problem (though it’s definitely up there), and neither is dozing off during lecture or putting off studying for that midterm because I wanted to do some weekday gallivanting out on the townnope, my trouble lies in the listening and paying attention part of going to class.

The worst part about it is that I always try to convince myself that I’m a good student. I’ll go to lecture, sit in my seat off to the side of the room and arm myself with my handy dandy three-subject notebook and Paper Mate pen, only to use the 50- or 80-minute period to decorate the page with doodles, practice my cursive or make pointless to-do lists I never get around to to-doing.

The result of this negligence: Observant notations likePrint out lecture slides!!” and insightful reactions likeWait, what?” when the professor says that the midterm is the day after tomorrow.

But you know what I don’t have trouble following? Reality television programs, especially when said programs aren’t complicated by silly things like convoluted plot lines, character development or story arcs.

Really though, I’ve picked up a thing or two about life from some of my favorite television shows. Call it what you want, but I prefer to think of these as an empirical approach to learninglife lessons that may be more useful to me in the future than concepts like Optimality Theory.

I have to start with my favorite show: TLC’s “Jon and Kate Plus 8, which follows the Gosselins, a family consisting of two parents and two sets of multiples thatyou guessed itadd up to eight (twins and sextuplets, to be exact.)

As wholesome as a show that promotes family bonding and features adorable children and parents that are still together (one of whom is a stay-at-home mom) may seem, it’s actually more progressive than one may think.

I’m talking about interracial marriage, people. Kate is the white baby mama and Jon is the hapa papa (he’s half-Korean and half-white). Mixed marriages aren’t a big deal in reality, but in mainstream television, they are few and far between. Plus, mixed kids are always cutealways!

Another show that’s gotten me far in life? “The Hills. Believe it or not, there are a couple of gems of knowledge underneath the superficial lifestyle it portrays as cameras follow “Laguna Beach alumna Lauren Conrad and her posse around Los Angeles.

Besides teaching me that you can get far in life if you’re pretty enough, shows like this taught me that it’s okay not to be the center of attention, i.e. the main character. AsThe HillsandThe Cityhave taught me, you’re better off not being main character on a show like thisit’s common knowledge that the narrators of shows like this are usually the most boring.

After L.C. kept going on about loyalty and friendship and grew a faint but noticeable mustache, the cameras turned its focus to the shenanigans of Spencer and Heidi. Who’s the most entertaining individual onThe City?” Not Whitney Port, that’s for sure.

But when you’re a side characterer, I mean, friendyou can still have a personality, and then exploit the hell out of it. Heidi and Spencer made household names of themselves; hey, even Brody got his own bro-show out of it.

 

RACHEL FILIPINAS may or may not be in the process of developing her own reality TV show, set to take place in the depths of Lower Freeborn. E-mail her at rmfilipinas@ucdavis.edu for more information.

 

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