Most of the time, we watch TV shows in order to relax after a long day of hard work — television’s purpose is to entertain us, after all. However, what if these programmes could also bring light to social issues, too?
There are a couple of popular series that do just this: entertain while conveying issues from multiple points of view.
Here are two great examples:
Orange Is The New Black
This Netflix series is based on a true story and set in a women’s prison in Connecticut, where protagonist Piper Chapman has to serve time for her association with a drug runner 10 years ago. The series depicts her life in prison, the difficulties she is facing in her new environment, as well as her relationships with the other prisoners.
It is a brilliant TV series as it shows the dark reality behind female prisons, including the hierarchy and the rules. It clearly depicts how harsh life for a woman can be inside such an institution as everyday essentials are not provided. More importantly, it shows the difficulties in surviving in a place full of women who come from different backgrounds, races and religions; on top of that, they all carry their own shattered pasts.
The series caused a huge controversy, not only in the US but all over the world as people began to discuss what it really means to be a female prisoner. As it is a series based on real events, it truly depicts the harsh reality of what it’s like inside an all-women’s prison. Society rarely speaks about what is going on and what the conditions are inside those prisons. Thus, this series reveals the truth about those communities and how the life of a woman can change inside such institutions.
This is a South Korean drama, a.k.a. K-drama, set in a broadcasting station in Korea. The main protagonists, anchor Lee Hwa-Shin and weather caster Pyo Na-Ri, are both facing the harsh competition in the station while slowly falling in love. What makes them get closer, though, is Lee Hwan-Shin’s battle with breast cancer, which makes him feel that he is losing his manliness.
This is a funny but sweet TV series which tells the unique story of men suffering from breast cancer and how it affects their lives during and after treatment. More importantly, it shows how much men are victimized and looked down by people around them if they go through this fight, as it is commonly thought to be an illness that only occurs in women — society is much less understanding when it affects a man.
That’s why men like Lee Hwan-Shin might feel ashamed about having what is considered as a woman’s disease: society is not doesn’t embrace the cancer patient irregardless of his or her gender. This programme encourages us to encourage male breast cancer patients rather than to stigmatise them.
These two series trigger social discussions that are rarely talked about openly, especially not on TV. They are going to make you laugh and cry, but they will also make you think about how society views and deals with controversial topics.
What other social issue-based programmes do you enjoy? Share them in the comments section below so we can check them out — and add them to our list!
— Thisvi Papanastasiou