Have you ever watched a show and thought, "wow, the social and economic ramifications of this program are an integral part of our society and there is a valuable lesson to be learned here." Okay, probably not, but now you can. Several Colleges have added courses dissecting some of televisions most groundbreaking and culturally influential shows. Personally, I think it's a great addition to schools' curriculums and I for one didn't learn enough about the dynamic world of the small screen while in school. Check out the list of TV classes after the jump. Trust me, this list will have you back in that super uncomfortable chair and taking notes in no time!
Mad Men-Northwestern University
This course explores "shifts in the U.S. economy after World War II brought social and cultural change." according to Prof. Michael Allen.
Urban American & Serial Television: Watching 'The Wire- Middlebury University
This course dives into deep into "urban America as a window into a number of social problems and conditions distinct to contemporary society."
The Simpsons' and Philosophy-UC Berkely
This course "attempts" to give us "nothing less than a glimpse at the complex human condition, how we live now and make our way morally in an often confusing world," says Sam McManis in the San Francisco Chronicle. Granted this show is a classic but I still question the validity of this course.
'Lost' and The Infinite Narrative - University of North Florida
This is being taught as a literature course at the school and a lot of the shows recurring themes and ideas are mulled over.
The Sopranos' on the Couch: Analyzing Television's Greatest Series - University of Calgary
Who have thought that this show would be so chalk full of important nuggets of information. I thought it was just about violence and crime. However English professor Maurice Yacowar sings the shows praises and comments that it is a "very rich and very serious-minded text." The episodes "really do stand up to the kind of analysis I'm used to giving for a Pinter play, or a Tennessee Williams play, or a Hitchcock film...."
"Urban Desires: 'Sex & the City' in Caribbean Cultures" - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
This course studies "the space of the city and how it intersects with issues of sex and sexuality in Hispanic Caribbean cultures." Now I know a lot of you may roll your eyes at me because I dare to question the validity of a Simpson's course but not a course about Sex and the City. Despite the blatant materialism of these women the show started off as something much more. It's attempt to tackle gender roles and its stance on feminism (or lack there of) says a lot about women in today's society and by the shows end and even with the first film it still was able to hold onto that statement.
In closing, I just wanted to respond to one of the comments left about this post on The Week.
And in related news India, one of the world's most impoverished nations, continues to churn out college graduates who take courses that that actually enable them to do something like... I don't know, perform surgery or create software or build rocket engines. In the meantime if I ever need to determine whether or not The Wire's Omar is really a metaphor for the contradiction of the masculine homosexual I'll have to ask an American graduate. And we wonder why they can't find jobs. Well no sir I can't do spreadsheets but ask me about Lost.I feel that this comment is outrageously condescending. Now, I'm not just defending this the arts because I have a degree in the field, I'm defending it solely because there is just as much validity in the arts as there is in saving someones life. This may sound like a ridiculous statement but I believe that many of us out there have taking refuge in the arts. Whether it be escaping the harsh realities of the real world and feeling better about life for a 30 minute or hour time interval while we watched a show or whether it be by being empowered by a specific character that we related to or even performing ourselves and finding value in life by doing so.
It goes without saying, the doctors who take care of us from the common cold to open heart surgery are tremendous contributors to society. However, at the end of a hard day I would bet good money that they are in front of their television sets with a stiff drink watching their favorite shows.