Opinion | TV shows and movies don’t have to be pretentious to be enjoyable

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Pitt students stream Xfinity on their laptop.

By Rachel Soloff, Opinions Editor

Over break, I watched a ton of TV — like an unhealthy amount. I watched everything from “Succession” to “Daredevil” to “The Sex Lives of College Girls.” While “Succession” has the accolades that maybe a show like “The Sex Lives Of College Girls” doesn’t, I still enjoyed both. Sometimes I wanted to focus on a show while other times, I just needed something light to escape reality. 

No matter what film bros and TV snobs say, you can like what you like! Entertainment is just that — something to entertain you. It doesn’t matter how many Emmy awards a show has or if it has five stars on Letterboxd — if you like to watch it, then watch away. If you get something out of the show or movie you’re watching — whether that is joy or comfort — it did its job. 

Oftentimes, the shows and movies that critics deem unintelligent are rated low because their audiences skew younger or majority female. Shows such as “The Bachelor” or chick flicks and romantic comedies, with a primarily teenage and/or female audience, are often dismissed. This stems from misogyny and society’s hatred of teenage girls and the things they enjoy. Just because a piece of media has an audience different from the Academy’s doesn’t automatically discount it. 

“The Sex Lives of College Girls,” a show created by Mindy Kaling for a younger and female audience, still has value. The show tackles important subjects such as sexual assault, power dynamics within relationships, and coming to terms with one’s sexuality. It does so with tact and comedy, but because of its target audience, people are quick to dismiss it.

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Although it does address serious issues, it’s a silly show at its core, and if people decide to watch it because it’s silly, they are just as valid as those who want to watch it for its portrayal of more complex topics. Every piece of media has value. If you judge a show or movie simply based on the audience, you can miss great shows that open your mind or funny ones that take your mind off of things.

The culture around movies is even more toxic with its misogyny and dismissal of “dumb” movies. Film bros are constantly belittling movies they deem as beneath them. Not every movie needs to be a five-star-rated foreign film discussing some niche subject matter. Sometimes people just want to watch something easily digestible and fun. I would consider myself somewhat of a movie buff — I try to see every Oscar-nominated movie and am religiously on Letterboxd. That being said, one of my favorite movies, unironically, is “Legally Blonde.” I shouldn’t have to be afraid that misogynistic film bros are going to take away my “film buff” card because of this.

The movies that the film community and critics highly regard are not always the most accessible. Martin Scorsese can say whatever he wants about Marvel movies, but they are way more accessible to the average movie-viewer than a three-hour film that requires a degree in film to fully understand.

If someone can find joy or solace in a movie, it did its job. If a Marvel movie brings you joy, you should watch it. If a long and perhaps less accessible movie brings you joy, then you should watch that. Art isn’t inherently good or bad — if you feel something from watching it, then it has done its job.

While consuming media that has a more substantial message is fulfilling sometimes, it isn’t always. You can enjoy a “smart” show and a fun one at the same time. Most people have guilty pleasures — even if they don’t admit it. Judging those who love chick flicks or tune in weekly to “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” makes you a jerk.

If we’re being honest, these past couple of years sucked. Between the news, politics and the pandemic, sometimes what we need is to put on something light and forget about how much the world is on fire. If reality TV helps you escape, watch it! Ignore the film bros, TV snobs and straight-up misogynists, and enjoy what you want to enjoy. The great thing about living in the new golden age of television and streaming boom is that there’s plenty of options, so watch what you want.

Rachel Soloff writes primarily about the entertainment industry and how lame antisemites are. Write to her at [email protected]

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