Why Research *and* Television?

One day in my lab, a colleague asked me what my favorite film was. I prefaced my answer with “You will judge me” and replied, Team America : World Police. I explained that the reason I consider it my favorite film is because it’s the film I’ve watched the most number of times. This was meant to be a shameful admission, but instead of judging my obviously unsophisticated taste, he remarked that my justification was unusual and refreshingly honest. Our self-reported preferences are so often about social expectations, rather than data.

I spend the vast majority of my day thinking about my research. I’ve love to report that when I need to unwind, I enjoy reading Thomas Pynchon and learning to play Gaspard de la Nuit. If these things were true, I might command the instant respect and jealousy of all the plebes who dare engage me in dialogues of wit and charm. If these things were true, I’d probably be better read and speak something other than the East Coast dialect of American English. I’d know something about wine and Scotch and even if I still preferred Cheddar to Gruyere, I’d have a better explanation than my ability to actually pick out the former from a cheese platter.

The truth is, I prefer spending time with the creations of Shonda Rhimes and J.J. Abrams and 100% do not care about mastering my understanding of esoteric works of 20th century (post)?modernist masters. I spend a lot of time thinking about how television communicates values and appeals to us (or rather than “us,” people like me?) on an emotional level. I think of the characters in my shows as my friends. I admire Peggy Olsen and Veronica Palmer. I wish J.J. gave Astrid Farnsworth more air time and appreciate how Amy Wong can be a wants-for-nothing ditzy physicist with a huge heart and an open mind. I’ve thought about the idea of having a greater diversity of people in STEM on television since I started in Computer Science (recently read an article about Juan Gilbert on this topic) and since I spend so much time thinking about television, I thought it would be worth including in this blog.

It’s important to write every day. While I’m not there yet, I hope to intersperse posts about cool papers and my current research with thoughts on various sitcoms and dramedies. That’s what this blog is about. Enjoy!

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