tv shows.JPG

TV shows get a lot of aspects of their depicted jobs wrong, which is why viewers shouldn't shape goals for their profession based on television.

TV and movie streaming services provide thousands of hours of entertainment easily accessible to users on a single site. With just the click of a button, viewers can choose between TV shows and movies, and then further narrow the search to their favorite genres, actors or themes. 

As these streaming companies increase in popularity, many have curated random sample surveys to learn which categories of entertainment users are most drawn toward. The results of these surveys, according to marketingcharts.com, reveal that the three most-streamed genres are comedy, drama — specifically crime drama — and action and adventure. Some well-known TV shows in these genres include “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Criminal Minds” and “The Office,” all of which are multiple seasons long and based on modern work environments.

Although none of these shows accurately depict what these professions are like on a day-to-day basis, they do provide a fairly accurate foundation from which the plot deviates to accommodate an entertaining dialogue and series of events. Even though these shows are often a stretch from what these jobs actually entail, many viewers gain inspiration from them. Thus, a problem arises. If medical school doesn’t involve the affairs or friendships that “Grey’s” presents or if hacking the government doesn’t result in a high-paying job for the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, what does that mean for the viewer’s future endeavors?

Viewers are obviously welcome to watch a TV show and develop an interest in the material being shown, but this interest should be followed up with thoughtful research on the field and its variety of occupations rather than being fueled by the plot of a fictitious agency or hospital. Making a serious decision like what to major in or what jobs to apply for should be founded in more than just a current streaming obsession. Simply taking personality quizzes offered on sites such as JMU’s career and academic planning page or researching the day-to-day life of an employee at a business of interest can provide plenty of useful insight into whether or not that field is compatible with one’s personality, values and goals.

For example, “Criminal Minds” portrays the BAU as a team that often travels across the country to help local authorities solve gruesome cases. While the BAU does investigate unusual violent crimes as it does on “Criminal Minds,” the FBI’s official website states that it’s actually currently considering splitting into four units. These units will focus on different goals that will include shifting focus onto nonviolent crimes. “Criminal Minds” also showcases characters such as agent Dr. Spencer Reid, who entered the BAU as his first job at the age of 22. 

While being recruited for a government position is a possibility, in most cases, members of the BAU have already served almost a decade in either the FBI or as local law enforcement. It’s important to have experience in a variety of areas of criminal investigation and law enforcement to be able to fully understand the implications of psychoanalyzing violent criminals. Spending such a significant amount of time in the field before even being considered for one’s agency of interest is a huge investment of time, which should be preceded with research of a company and confidence in one’s enthusiasm for the job. 

As another example, “Grey’s Anatomy” has portrayed hundreds of emergency room scenarios and outcomes. Throughout the show’s 16 seasons, there have been many inaccuracies. According to inverse.com, “Grey’s” portrays miraculously fast-healing patients and higher mortality rates than actual hospitals see on top of showcasing misdiagnoses of serious illnesses. Some streamers have voiced concerns that these flawed symptoms may cause viewers who have some form of medical issue to misdiagnose the symptoms they’re feeling and thus not receive the help they need.

Overall, shows such as “Criminal Minds” and “Grey’s Anatomy” may be fun to binge-watch, but fans should be careful not to base future career options solely on the plots of these televised workplaces. Although the shows have many accurate representations of their respective fields, one must not put all of one’s trust into the screenwriters of a made-up television program.

Liz is a freshman media arts and design major. Contact Liz at riccioem@dukes.jmu.edu.