I wrote this back in 2006, but it is definitely still true. A little insight into why I like TV shows about people making a difference so much:
“My sister came up last weekend for the West Wing finale, and since then (because I finished with school last Friday) I have been watching a bunch of West Wing episodes, and it got me thinking about why I like the show so much, and in general, why I use TV as an escape mechanism. I realized that I am drawn to watching The West Wing (and other shows) for two reasons. First is the idea of helping people. I want to help people, I want to fix what is wrong in the world, but it is so frustrating to think about when so many bad things happen to really good people. I am talking of course about horrendous things like genocide and famine, but also about small things, like people I really love getting hurt or having to deal with awful family/friend situations. On The West Wing, they somehow always manage to find a way around whatever the problem is, and really help people, and it makes me feel really passionate about going out and creating real change. The same with ER and SVU – the people on those shows really help people in a semi-realistic setting that makes me hopeful that one day I will be able to do the same.
The second reason is this idea of recognition. Obviously, the president is easily recognizable and only a limited number of people have access to him. While I don’t want to be a celebrity or be the president, I really crave recognition. That sounds really self-centered (because it is), but it’s the truth. I really want people to notice me and know who I am, I want to be set apart from others. I think that is also a big part of the eating disorder. While I hate the attention that comes from the disorder itself (people saying “oh you are so skinny” etc.), the idea that I am able to accomplish something that others can’t is really powerful. I feel so plain and boring and underwhelming, that the idea of having secret service agents or being recognized when walking around Washington is really appealing to me. If I had that, then I would feel as if I had actually accomplished something with my life, instead of feeling like all I do is take up extra space.”