No matter the form or format, a good story is its own reward. Action, comedy, drama, and more can come together to delight fans, as well as keep them coming back for more. Still, no one would likely raise any complaints if watching their favorite TV show actually had some hidden benefits. If a recent study is to be believed, then that’s exactly what they can offer.
Researchers from the University of Oklahoma decided to put one hundred men and women to the test — after they had watched enough TV, of course. Half of the subjects were asked to watch Emmy-winning dramas like Mad Men and The West Wing; meanwhile, the other half watched documentaries on sharks and the sun. When they finished, each of them took a special test that tasked them with matching pictures of eyes to the correct emotion; as it turned out, those who watched the dramas performed much better.
The current theory is that the dramas demand more out of their viewers. By sticking to plots and characters, those who watch are forced to pay close attention to mental and emotional states — and in turn, receive subconscious training on how to understand feelings. Presumably, that means it takes a high-quality and well-acted drama to make that process easier, but it’s entirely possible that other shows and genres can have a strong impact. Either way, the fact that an hour of TV can have even a slight benefit is plenty appreciable.