Most of my childhood consisted of watching sitcoms and eating ice cream. In fact, during times of trouble, I often hear the voice of James Avery (Uncle Phil from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air) before my own father’s, and my first memory of Ted Danson was behind a bar, not a police desk.
While the wisdom of the ‘80s and ‘90s lives on in our hearts, there is still a wealth of great life advice in more recent TV shows. Here are 10 shows that teach you invaluable lessons about life. Included are quotes that sum up a great philosophy learned from each television series.
1. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
“You can stand anything for 10 seconds… Then you just start on a new 10 seconds.”
Netflix’s favorite Indiana Mole Woman a.k.a. Kimmy (portrayed by Ellie Kemper) survived 15 years of imprisonment by the Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm — yes, John Hamm) with her unending optimism and reliance on this quote. Kimmy retains her sanity by breaking down her daily struggles underground into manageable, ten-second bits. No matter if you’re turning a crank-operated generator or stuck on a horrible blind date, just take it “ten seconds at a time.”
2. Arrested Development
“She thinks I’m too critical. That’s another fault of hers.”
Lucille Bluth always tells it like it is. Any Arrested Development fan knows that she is no stranger to giving advice. Mother Bluth is brutally honest and knows she’s awesome – and so should you. Lucille has never once apologized for being herself. Put another olive in your martini, while perfecting your winky face, and celebrate you.
“She’s your lobster.”
Besides the obvious lessons that we all need a solid group of friends in our life who accept us for you we are, one of the most touching lines in Friends is about find your lobster (a.k.a. the one you are meant to be with). So if you are still single at 30, don’t give up because your true love is out there. Note: After ten seasons, there are bound to be more examples, but so many episodes over the years means lots of content to go through. At least you can binge watch this on Netflix.
4. Grey’s Anatomy
“Just put one foot in front of the other. Just get through the day.”
Granted, this is probably the most generic piece of life advice there is, but that doesn’t make it any less true. No matter what kind of day you’re having, good or bad, tomorrow is a new one. Of course, these words seem to carry more weight when coming from a (TV) doctor.
5. Doctor Who
“There’s a considerable difference between courage and reckless stupidity.”
By all means, be brave. But before taking that stance whether physically or verbally—think it through!!
Bonus: “You want weapons? We’re in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world!”
Read! Never stop learning no matter how old or smart you get. Learning from other people’s mistakes, wisdom and experiences will be one of the best things you do for your life.
6. Parks and Recreation
“Never half-ass two things, whole ass one thing.”
Ron Swanson is not only master of meat and mustache, but also the wisest individual in all of Pawnee, Indiana. This particular quoted gem is at the foundation of his character. When Ron starts something, he finishes it; moreover, he puts all his energy into completing a given task. Even though taking on multiple responsibilities will make you seem more valuable to those around you, for most people the quality of the work is diminished – unless you’re Leslie Knope.
Ron Swanson is proof that there is still a point to be made for quality over quantity. As is a common saying in sports, “Go hard or go home.”
Bonus: “Treat yo’ self.”
This is less of a quote and more of a holiday frame of mind. On October 13, 2011, Parks and Rec aired an episode in which Donna and Tom spent the day “treating themselves” with lots of clothes, jewelry and food. Let’s face it, the stress work is unavoidable and sometimes you need a pick me up to get you through the day. Everyone “treats themselves” differently; some take days off, others buy things. Whatever you do, the point is to realize there are more important things in life than your job and to relax once in a while.
“Clark, you’re so focused on what’s ahead that you’re starting to cut out the parts of your past that made you who you are.”
Martha Kent, adopted mother of Clark Kent, a.k.a. Superman, is another example of the important role supporting (non-super-powered) characters play in any superhero TV show or movie. Characters like Alfred in Batman and Uncle Ben Parker Spider-man serve as the connection to the “normal” world for their respective heroes.
In addition to keeping them grounded, these individuals act as a support system. They are often the people the heroes treasure the most and are fighting to protect. The mere presence of Martha, Chloe and others like them are proof we are nothing without our friends and family.
In regards to the quote itself, planning for the future is a great practice, but it often results in tunnel-vision. Imagine the life of almost every famous actor, athlete or musician: humble beginnings, a brush with fame, followed by a whirlwind of drugs and overindulgence in the finer things, ending with rehab and a reality show. I don’t think Martha was referring to the price of fame, but rather to the larger point of holding fast to one’s foundational beliefs.
When we are given a new challenge, our first instinct is to “rise to the occasion.” Oftentimes, our core values are twisted to justify certain actions in order to meet a particular end, especially if it is through questionable means. Martha reminds us never to forget where we came from and be true to ourselves, because everyone has battles to fight – not just superheroes.
8. New Girl
“You can run away from your problems, but you’re just going to find new ones that pop up.”
Living is not for the weak. The fact is life is hard and, more often than not, things will not go your way. Problems are daily, mostly unavoidable occurrences that need to be resolved. Unfortunately, running away from issues doesn’t make them go away. If anything, it makes them worse. You can catch New Girl on FOX.
9. Game of Thrones
“Once you’ve accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you.”
“Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”
No one is perfect. We all have are flaws and downfalls, but it’s what we do with those flaws and our attitude towards them that will make us into who we are. Tyrion is my favorite character; not just because of his witty comments, but also because he owns who he is. So if you are trying to be someone else, stop it. Just be yourself and embrace your flaws and use them to your advantage.
10. The IT Crowd
“Have you tried turning it off and on again?”
Obviously, this isn’t the best advice … or is it? Restarting your computer will fix 99% of day-to-day computing issues and save you hours of time in the process. Seriously, when in doubt, restart.
You might recognize Chris O’Dowd from his roles in Bridesmaids and Dinner for Shmucks, but his breakout role was as Roy Trenneman on the BBC series The IT Crowd, a workplace comedy focused around the IT department at Reynholm Industries.
Featured photo credit: Global Panorama via flickr.com