Tag Archives: television

A Hidden Gem of American Sitcoms

By Yingyi Lin

I am a big fan of sitcoms. I have watched many popular American sitcoms that have gained mass international popularity: Friends, The Big Bang Theory, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Modern Family, just to name a few. Many times, these shows take place in American metropolitan cities such as New York City and Los Angeles, places which are interesting to international students like me. The hidden gem ranking the top of my favorite sitcom list, however, has to be Veep.

The HBO show Veep takes place in the capital city of America, Washington D.C. For many reasons, Veep is not as popular as other American shows in China, or in other countries where many international students come from. This mismatch of the popularity of the show with its quality is what makes me call it a hidden gem of American sitcoms. Veep has won many accolades for its quality: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the actress of America’s first woman president Selina Meyer featured in Veep, has won six Primetime Emmy Awards in a row. Her award acceptance speech was among the best, and she was even honored the 2018 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor for it.

Photo by Caleb Fisher on Unsplash

Before watching Veep, I did not realize that I indeed care so much about politics. As someone interested in learning about human nature, my favorite quote from Selina Meyer is “Politics is about people”. To me, caring about politics does not mean I care which party people stand for; instead, I am intrigued by why and how people make their choices. The interaction between Veep’s politicians, their followers, and their people is a vivid reality of humanity—one that is not only determined by one’s own personal desires but also deeply shaped by the context of one’s life. Veep is more than a political satire of the country’s many presidencies. To me, Veep is about American politics and the everyday life of people living in America. 

The most interesting thing about Veep is that Meyer, like all other politicians in the show, never discloses which party she stands for. Having witnessed the extreme political divide of America myself, the ambiguous political standpoint among Veepers to me exposes the common (and unfortunate) goal of both parties to win more voters. Politicians strive for what they want, but it is unclear whether these desires align with the desires of the people.

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As someone who studies family dynamics as part of my major, TV shows centering around family dynamics are my favorite, such as Downton Abbey, The Middle (the most underrated American family sitcom), and Modern Family. The family dynamics in Veep, however, are very dysfunctional. The characters of Veep relentlessly sacrifice their families for personal political achievement.

I have learned a lot from Veep, and a lot of what I have learned are things that I would not have consciously sought out. For instance, what happens if there is a tie in a presidential election? Veep hypothetically features this scenario, although a tie did happen (in the 1800 presidential election). Through Veep, I also came to know more about America’s lobbying culture and the polling industry—with the latter sharing similarities to my own research.  Veep also has a rich glossary of newly created words, most of which are used by characters in the show to insult other characters. Many of the jokes compound words to create these insults. ‘Voldemeyer’ is such an example, a nickname of Meyer by the media. It is interesting for me to see these nicknames are formed by multiple words in English, and I have learned many different cultural references from this.

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Grey’s Anatomy From the Perspective of a Pre-med Student

By Richard Petrosyan

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

If you ask anybody in the world of medicine what they think is the intersection between science and popular entertainment, Grey’s Anatomy emerges as one of the most widespread household names in the category of medical shows. From never-ending social drama to surgery-induced emotional roller coasters, every episode I watch is filled with suspense. The show perpetually keeps me on edge, and as a student on the pre-med track I like to watch the show to see which aspects are realistic and which ones might not be.

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

The first commonality I found between the series and my experiences is the heightened level of stress in the atmosphere of operation rooms and emergency rooms. While shadowing doctors, I have encountered patients in many different critical conditions, from burns to cardiac conditions to neurological trauma. In the series, like in real life, the characters exhibit traits which are necessary for doctors to perform their jobs well in a high-stress environment, like the ability to think straight and quickly despite time constraints and the distractions and noise surrounding the doctor. Although I was only an observer in a hospital environment, I felt the importance of paying close attention to every small detail in the situation and being able to juggle them. I knew if I wished to take on that lead physician’s role in the years to come, I would have to begin practicing that level of close attentiveness early on. What caused the trauma? How do I formulate the patient update to the family without causing them to worry unnecessarily? What’s the best course of action when discovering a new impactful injury while treating the initial injury? I’ve started thinking about all of these things while still being in the observer’s position, both in front of the TV screen and physically in the hospital. To me, these considerations are part of the preparation required for what promises to be an exhausting, yet fulfilling, career.

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Friendships, Fun, and Funny Situations: MY FAVORITE SITCOMS

By Matthew Kim

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3.5 minute read]

When I need a good laugh or a moment to escape the hardships of reality, I always rely on sitcoms to cheer me up. A sitcom is a comedic TV show that typically focuses on the funny day-to-day interactions of a group of characters. With most episodes being around 20 minutes in length, it’s very easy to mindlessly continue watching your favorite characters and enter their universe. Sitcoms are usually packed with ensemble casts with diverse personalities that create relatable content. With good chemistry, a sitcom show can gain popularity for their loveable characters or for just being straight-out funny. For a non-native speaker, watching sitcoms is also a great way to improve your English as they typically contain jokes with references to American culture or customs. Over the years, I’ve seen a countless number of sitcoms and wanted to share two of my favorites with you all!

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New Girl

The premise of New Girl begins when Jessica Day, played by Zooey Deschanel, goes through a bad breakup with her ex-boyfriend, Spencer. In the pilot episode, she moves out of her shared home with Spencer and moves in with new roommates Nick, Schmidt, and Coach. Thus, she is the “new girl” in the apartment. Jess, is a quirky, offbeat teacher who is seen as a dork by most. The show mainly follows her life adventure of relationships and work. Nick Miller is one of Jess’ roommates who dropped out of law school so he could work as a bartender but he has aspirations to be a writer. He’s apathetic, socially awkward at times, very sarcastic, and struggles to share his emotions. I consider him to be the rock of the group because he provides stability for the craziness around him. Schmidt is another roommate who lived with Nick in college. He’s a funny character and in my opinion has amazing character development throughout the show. The third roommate is Ernie but he is better known by his nickname: Coach. He leaves after the pilot for undisclosed reasons but makes recurring appearances throughout the show. Due to this, his character lacks a bit of depth but he’s generally a force of good in the show. Following the pilot, Coach is replaced by Winston Bishop who is Nick’s childhood friend from Chicago. His facial expressions and love for his cat are some of the most entertaining moments on the show. In my opinion, the on-screen chemistry between Nick, Schmidt, and Winston is one of the key factors to the funniness of the show. The last member of the core gang is Cece: Jess’ best friend from childhood. Her character seems a bit stuck-up in the beginning but as the show progresses, she becomes more and more loveable. All in all, this hilarious, feel-good show features a cast of characters that’ll show you what real friends look like.

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How I Met Your Mother

How I Met Your Mother is one of my favorite shows ever and actually the first sitcom I finished from beginning to end. It is packed with comedic content but is a deeper show than most initially anticipate. The show follows Ted Mosby as he tells his children the story of how he met their mother. Ted Mosby is an architect who believes that he will eventually find “the one”. He is a romantic and constantly entangled in all sorts of drama in his love life. His best friend is Marshall, who he roomed with in college. Ted and Marshall’s friendship is something that I really admire in the show because they are always there for each other. Marshall’s wife, Lily, is a kindergarten teacher who can be the most loveable in the gang but also the most aggravating at times. The last character in the group is Barney Stinson, who is a wealthy serial playboy. He is another one of Ted’s best friends and has numerous catchphrases. Initially, he’s the most “immature” out of the gang but he transforms into a character that is loving and caring. He is my personal favorite out of all of them. This is a another great show to watch if you like shows focusing on groups of friends. It is packed with a lot of relatable content: first cars, relationship problems, financial hardships, childhood traumas, embarrassing situations, etc. All of these components make me feel more connected to the show.

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