Couch Potato

I am a TV show buff. I haven’t always been one. Growing up in India, I played console games and painted random thing to entertain myself for a decade or so. Those were the mostly the only sources of entertainment when I wanted to be alone and have a good time. Over past 5 years, that has changed. Now, I watch a lot of shows. More than I would like to admit.

While I obviously watch shows for fun, I have grown to appreciate how much shows can teach us and help us deepen our understanding of so many things. Story-telling is very powerful. This definitely has its downsides, no doubt. Morgan Housel, one of the best bloggers out there, explores how humans latch onto stories at the cost of statistics (or reality) very eloquently here. I have experienced this first hand myself. A lot of my impressions of America were based on what the shows and movies portrayed. There is no denying that those portrayals were directionally right but there is also no denying that those portrayals were exaggerations and lacked nuances. A major mistake I made was not complementing watching shows with lots of reading. We also see this happen in politics daily. The best story wins, not the optimal policy! But, I digress..

That being said, I think watching a bunch of shows on a particular topic has a similar effect as reading a bunch of books on a topic. I admit that this is not a fair comparison and that shows cannot in any way substitute reading and working for learning about something. I do think that reasonable disagreement over how impactful good shows can be in the learning process does not invalidate the broader point I’m trying to make.

I think shows are a great complementary learning mediums. Personally, I have enjoyed watching shows on themes I have explored through reading, life experiences or work experiences.

Shows & movies as a way of understanding and appreciating fields we don't work in is under-appreciated

Sar Haribhakti@sarthakgh

Watching shows like @SHO_Billions @MadamSecretary & @Suits_USA is an underrated way of building mental models (as advocated by Munger) across fields.

This convo b/w @pkafka & @briankoppelman is very illustrative of that.

July 24, 2018
Watching good shows is an educational way of exploring fields in broad strokes.

Sar Haribhakti@sarthakgh

Watching good shows is an educational way of exploring fields in broad strokes.

Finance - @SHO_Billions
Law - @Suits_USA
Politics - @MadamSecretary @HouseofCards @VeepHBO @ScandalABC
Consulting - @HouseofLiesTV
Medicine - House, @GreysAnatomyHD

January 15, 2018
One has to be very cautious in not taking everything at face value though. These shows are designed to provide entertainment value. But, that does not mean we cant learn from them. They often give lots of pointers that help add color to our broader understanding of lots of topics. I often use them as a source of rabbit holes to go down in.

Watching shows like House of Cards, Madam Secretary and Scandal does help at least explore how the way things look on the outside are not how things actually work on the inside when it comes to politics. Those two shows sadly help make sense of how policy-making, negotiations and messaging actually work in the Congress and White House.

Suits is one of my favorite shows of all time. It consistently drops nuggets in every episode that are widely applicable in our lives and careers.

Sar Haribhakti@sarthakgh

“What you have yet to learn is that there are players who never put up great stats, but you keep them around because they make the people around them better.” - Donna in @Suits_USA

So so good. Who said you can’t learn from shows?

July 30, 2018
Sar Haribhakti@sarthakgh

.@Suits_USA has hands down been the best show for me to learn about work ethic, office politics, hustle, people management & career growth. It is so much more than just a show on a corporate law firm.

August 31, 2018

It could very likely be the case that I’m trying to justify my entertainment habits by trying too hard to find some teachable moments! I very much enjoy going very deep on a lot of topics through books, articles, blog posts, podcasts, shows, movies and conversations with people. Reed Hastings might think Netflix competes with sleep, I’m sitting here trying to make a case that certain shows might just be more than about entertainment.

I am always looking for new shows to watch. Recommendations are welcome!