Reality Check: TV Shows Are a Work of Fiction


Last Updated: August 26, 2022
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Did Mike Ross make life as a corporate lawyer seem cool? Do you want to become a chemist thanks to Walter White? TV shows and movies do put us on flights of fancy, don’t they? Here’s a reality check. These characters are barely an accurate depiction of the life you would lead should you decide to follow their footsteps.

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A lot of youngsters tend to believe that media representations are an actual replica of real life. In the world of TV or Netflix these days, many occupations don’t even exist. And those that do are portrayed as exhilarating. The truth is a tad bit different.

Read on to see what TV gets wrong about careers. This article is spoiler-free, you may proceed without caution.

TV storylines are often exaggerated. No corporate lawyer sees the week-to-week action that Harvey Specter does. Yes, the perks such as expensive lunches and fancy houses in the heart of Manhattan exist, but the actual job consists of days that are comparatively mundane.

According to a recent UCAS report, the applications for law degrees amongst females have risen by 20% in the last few years. One of the reasons behind this is believed to be influential female lawyers portrayed on shows such as Suits. Think Jessica Pearson on Suits and Annalise Keating on How To Get Away With Murder.

Yes, this is certainly a sign of progress, but it is necessary to keep in mind that professional life in the line of employment will not be as dramatic or riveting.

The premise of Steve Carell’s character in The Office revolves around Michael Scott being clueless about how offensive he is. Realistically, he would have got himself fired in the first episode itself. The corporate world is way more particular about office behaviour. HR regulations are stringent, which indicates that people cannot be the slightest bit offensive in a work environment. Are there any perks of being a loudmouth at work then? Nope.

On medical shows such as Scrubs and Grey’s Anatomy, residents, as well as attendings, arrive to work in daylight and leave in the daytime on the same day. That’s not even remotely realistic. Doctors spend hours in the hospital and may end up working back-to-back shifts for days at a stretch. Being a healthcare personnel is exhausting and tiring.

Misrepresentations are common. On CSI, investigators appear to be in charge; whereas, in the real world, detectives hold the reins. CSI on TV conduct interviews. In the real world of crime investigation, crime analysts do not have the right to conduct interviews or have contact with suspects except to capture photographs. It is all done under the supervision of a detective to ensure proper procedure is followed.

A lot of professions are under-represented on TV shows. For example, on Grey’s Anatomy, the nurses have been portrayed as a minor part of the hospital, whereas in real life, nurses are very crucial to the hospital. Nurses help new doctors learn the ropes, regularly interact with patients and assist doctors whenever required. They are essential to healthcare. However, the judgement of the audience has been clouded by a lack of representation of this vital job, thus making the profession less desirable.

Even though it’s in the name, reality shows aren’t real. For example, Shark Tank. To begin with, the moment a company appears on the show, the calculated valuation is distorted. This is because the owner gets to advertise their business on national TV. There have been several instances of people being on the show hoping for a ridiculously high investment within ten minutes. But the reality is that angel investment pitches go on for weeks, even months. Yes, the show is an excellent way to learn about concepts like pre/post-money valuation and royalty, but it is not a realistic representation of a professional angel investment in the early stage.

Bottom Line: Television romanticises. It’s great if you know what you want to do and become in life but do better than choosing a career based on your favourite show. Know for a fact the real world is far more different.

Such shows and movies are called an escape from reality for a reason. However, let it not keep you from enjoying your favourite ones.