It seems these days that everyone has their favourite TV series along with their favourite protagonist. Harvey Specter from Suits, Piper Chapman from Orange is the New Black, Frank and Claire Underwood from House of Cards, Don Draper from Mad Men. Or maybe you’re more of a Lady Mary Crawley from Downton Abbey, Nina Proudman from Offspring, or Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory type of person.
In a world where we no longer have to wait a whole week to watch a next episode, binge-watching allows us to almost live alongside these characters as though they are a part of our own lives, much like a friend, family member or work colleague.
Watching movies allows us roughly two hours to get to know our main characters, whereas the length of a TV series allows us to spend literally days getting to know the depth of characters and their inner psyche.
We get to know their personalities intimately and this means we can recognize their patterns of feeling, thinking and behaving. Knowing someone’s personality well allows us to predict what he or she would be like in different contexts and situations.
On TV, we get to see these personalities play out in certain stories. We see how their personality traits work for them in certain situations and we also see what doesn’t.
We know what Nina Proudman would do if she was interested in one of the new doctors, we know the facial expressions Frank Underwood would make if he found out someone was doing something behind his back and we know what Sheldon Cooper would say if he (god forbid) got something wrong.
So what is it about our favourite TV characters that get us hooked? For some, it’s their confidence, bravery, toughness, attitude, quick wit or maybe it’s a quirky behaviour or two. All are endearing qualities that we get drawn to.
Sometimes, we like these TV characters because they are like us. Or maybe we would like some of their qualities, because we naturally don’t have the traits ourselves. Well, what if we did. How would our life be different?
Given we know that ‘fake it to you make it’ works to some degree, who could you emulate to make you life a little better?
For example, what would your workday be like if you channeled a little Harvey Specter? The Harvey in you would increase your self worth, self-belief and eventually make you more confident. If you don’t feel confident, pretend you are until you gain the experience or tools necessary that it becomes for real. You would not put up with any crap from anyone at work anymore that’s for sure.
What about adding the calmness and grace of Lady Mary Crawley to your home? When family members are irritating you, breathe deeply, raise an eyebrow, smile softly and just glide out of the room. Everyone would be better off for you doing that.
Channeling your inner TV character might feel artificial and forced in the beginning but some of these qualities will become more natural until you are feeling the positive effects of it. Emulating these strong (and slight exaggerated) qualities of these TV figures might start working for you.
So have a think, who could you start channeling to get you want you want in life? George Costanza or Homer Simpson might not do the trick, but what about House, Buffy, Tony Soprano or Xena Princess Warrior?
What you will also notice about your chosen TV character is that regardless of their strengths, all of them have imperfections, and these flaws are usually revealed as you delve further into the series.
They are fallible humans just like us.
Which is another reason we like them.