Students obsession with daytime television is almost notorious, but I had never really had much interest until the month before my exams started. The week lectures ended was glorious; namely because for somebody living at home like me, it means that the daily hour-long journey to uni is over until September again! While the dedicated post pictures on Facebook of the queues for the library or complain about taking an hour to find a seat, I can sprawl out in the comfort of home and start getting down to exam revision without the stress of fighting the crowds for the best spot in the ‘Silent Zone’.
Smug as I felt when I attempted to collect together all my notes, it was short lived. The progression from music on my laptop (the distraction of online shopping proved too much) to relying on the TV for background noise proved fatal in terms of my concentration. For I had stumbled upon the gems of daytime entertainment – namely shows such as The Jeremy Kyle Show, Judge Judy and repeats of Dragons Den. Now, it has to be said that almost everybody watches these shows when they stumble across them channel-hopping; ‘it’ll be a laugh, why not?’ Well, before long, waking up at 9am to ‘get some real work done today’ actually lead to me creating a schedule of entertainment that by far outlasted any work. An hour of trying to interpret what issues today’s guests on Jeremy Kyle (9.25 on ITV1 if you’re interested) were really on the show for – multiple episodes of cheating, and lie detector tests being a prominent feature – was followed by Judge Judy. If a Dragons Den repeat was on Dave, this was considered a bonus – if not, it was onto old episodes of 10 Years Younger. From loving this show when it was originally shown years ago, realizing that it was actually a humiliating ritual in making 30-40 year old women feel that they cannot possibly be good enough as they are – only surgery and a total makeover can turn their life around.
For the entire of the exam period, this pattern continued. The Jeremy Kyle Show was unsurprisingly the most attention catching of them all: unashamedly loved by almost everyone, the shouting, fights and storming out evoke giggles, gasps of shock or just open mouthed horror from the viewing audience (and myself at home). But the peak came when I found myself crying at an episode. Not tears of laughter, actual tears of sadness at the predicament unfolding on-screen. A 60 year old man had been left with a child he believed was his own for two years, while the mother continued her life of drink, drugs and sex. After providing everything for this child, and swearing he would fight her in court for permanent custody, Jez delivered the fatal blow: ‘The DNA results show that he is….NOT the child’s father’. Well, the heartbreak was clear to see, as the man sobbed his heart out, and the ink of my carefully prepared notes smudged as my own tears fell.
Emotional as this episode was, after the signature music blared I felt immediate self pity. Drastic action was taken: I took the soul destroying journey back to uni, braved the queue for the tiny space in the library, and went cold turkey. Thankfully, the end of exams brought a relief to this addiction – I could go back to the occasional viewing (afternoon of course, 9.25 being a time of the past). I can only hope that the programmed schedule changes soon, so I will no longer turn on the television, already knowing what equally hilarious and mind-numbing talk show is going to distract my attention for the next few hours. It’s a hate-to-love for students everywhere, but these shows will remain addictive for as long as they remain controversial enough to turn our attention from lecture slides on…pretty much anything, it shouldn’t be hard.