From the BBC’s “Sherlock” to “American Horror Story,” the taste of TV shows among students at the University of Dallas is as varied as the Texas weather. Yet, they generally look for good acting, wit and humor.
Being at UD has even impacted the way some students watch TV.
“I’m more aware of subtleties that TV shows will throw in,” said sophomore Elora Kuhn. “In ‘Supernatural’ there are lots of references to Christianity, religion and books like ‘Paradise Lost.’ My taste hasn’t been affected but just the depth of which I am able to enjoy the show.”
An avid lover of high suspense, action and romance, Kuhn recommends shows with exciting dialogue and plotlines such as “The Walking Dead,” “Frasier” and “Once Upon A Time.”
The entertainment that UD students seek tends to stay above the realm of reality TV, and sophomore Mary Hinze believes UD does have a superior television palate.
“I feel like UD is not a good sample of what America watches,” Hinze said. “I feel like most of America watches trashy shows on cable like ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians.’ ”
Senior Grace Zischkau, who enjoys “Dark Matter,” “American Horror Story” and anime shows such as “Akame Ga Kill,” appreciates shows with cult followings.
“I watch TV for the interesting story lines that emotionally attach you to characters,” Zischkau said.
A 23-minute “Friends” episode can deliver quick entertainment during which a student can concentrate on homework.
Freshman Christian David values “Portlandia” precisely for this brevity, as it does not subscribe to the classic formula of having a plot.
“Most shows that have a really huge plot structure, you have to commit to watching it,” David said. “Portlandia is not like that at all. There’s like no plot.”
The show’s humor keeps David coming back, freed from investment in a complex storyline. David also appreciates shows like “The Office.”
“Things that I can be kind of mindless and just laugh to is my idea of TV,” David said.
While students may opt for a TV over film because it does not require the same level of concentration, psychology Professor Scott Churchill criticizes a majority of TV shows for being mindless and lazy.
“Instead of being story-driven, all the shows now are actor-driven, not character-driven,” Churchill said. [I prefer] the characters to be more complex than they tend to be.”
He believes that shows like “CSI” that opt for slick visuals and empty plots are a waste of time.
“What I’m finding on regular network television is far too much cliché-formula-driven, waiting to the last minute to get the reveal,” Churchill said. “They keep the audience baited.”
Churchill appreciated “Mad Men,” for its developed characters and self-contained episodes that do not rely on cliffhangers to keep the audience returning each week.
“I’ve stopped watching TV because it bores me to tears,” Churchill said. “The only thing I like left on TV is what video can do that you can’t really do with film and that [is] live comedy.”
Churchill turns to shows like “Saturday Night Live” and “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” to find the spontaneity lacking in most mainstream TV.
Whether they seek deep characters or are looking for mindless, plot-less shows, students enjoy TV as a way to escape from heavy reading and to unwind from the stress of school.
Yet, as sophomore psychology major Sarah Webster pointed out, sitcoms like “Parks and Recreation” have an element in common with epics like the “Iliad.”
“[They] have crazy stuff that would never happen to a normal person, but people are still able to find bits and pieces of it to relate to,” Webster said.