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Binge watching political dramas not all bad reveals study

ANI | Updated: Mar 19, 2019 20:29 IST

Washington D.C. [USA] Mar 19 (ANI): Don’t feel guilty after binge-watching your favourite political dramas. It may lead to an increased interest in politics, according to a recent study.
The researchers did a survey on the fans of TV shows like ‘Madam Secretary’, ‘The Good Wife’ and ‘Scandal’ and found that the fans who felt most connected to the storyline and characters reported increased political interest and participation. This research was published in the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media.
"A lot of times, people think of entertainment television as being just that, purely entertainment but there's research, including this study, to show it can be more than that; we can get more out of entertainment media than just something fun and relaxing. This study is showing that when we have lead female characters, we can feel like we're part of the show, we enjoy the characters, and that can actually lead to positive political outcomes," said the lead author, Jennifer Hoewe.
The researchers conducted the study from 218 fans, 70 per cent of whom were women, recruited from Reddit forums and other online fan forums dedicated to the shows, as well as Twitter. Although many political thrillers and comedies have become popular on television and digital streaming services, the three shows were chosen for their more accurate depictions of women in political leadership.
Respondents were first tested on whether or not they felt two common experiences in narrative fiction, feeling emotionally invested in a story, what researchers call transportation, and feeling connected to characters, also known as parasocial relationships. On a one-to-seven scale, they were asked to rate how the shows affected them emotionally, how much they related to the characters and how interested and active they were in politics, among other criteria.
Viewers who experienced the two narrative fiction phenomena also reported paying more attention to politics and being more involved in political activities, such as attending a public meeting, rally or speech, circulating a petition for a candidate or issue, or contacting a public official or political party.
"Although not in the majority, we're seeing more shows featuring women in fictional roles in a greater number of contexts, media depictions of political leadership can illustrate to people generally, not just women, that there is an opportunity for people of all genders and colours to participate in politics," Hoewe further added.
The three shows included in the study are an exception in primetime TV, which still confines women to roles emphasizing sexuality, beauty and gender-stereotypical occupations. But the findings are promising by showing that reversing those roles can be beneficial to viewers. (ANI)