“Watching TV Makes You Smarter”

The essay written by Steve Johnson, “Watching TV Makes You Smarter” was a lot different than expected. Before reading it, I assumed its tone was going to be really sarcastic and he would be discussing how stupid our generation is because of the amount of television we watch. Once I finished reading it however, I was pleasantly surprised. 

Johnson’s tone in this essay was scientific. He presented his opinion then, through thoughtful research he backed up his stance with evidence. I didn’t fully understand what the graphs were explaining/ showing, all I really got from them was that the more scattered the dots/ squares, the more complex the shows were. I wish I knew more of the shows that Johnson was talking about, I think it would have helped me understand the meaning of the passage to a fuller extent. 

I found it really interesting that the TV considered “bad TV” was, in his eyes, actually “good better tv”. The comparison Johnson made between early television shows and stage and reality TV shows being like video games was really interesting. 

                  If early television took its cues from the stage, today’s reality

programming is reliably structured like a video game: a series of 

competitive tests, growing more challenging over time…(pg 290)

Even though I knew that early TV had the audience clapping in the background and you could hear them laughing I didn’t make the connection that TV producers were making an easier transition for watchers and also for relating it to what the majority of the people know as entertainment. Today, SO many people play video games so TV producers are relating it to what the majority think of as entertainment. 




  1. It is so interesting that what people consider “bad” TV Johnson actually considers probably the best TV out there for people to be watching. It really made me think about all of these accusations surrounding TV and the effects that it has on most importantly children. Johnson breaks that accusation and gives proof that in reality, television is great mind therapy.

  2. I also found it really interesting that bad t.v was considered good t.v, i feel like no one really knows the difference between the good and the bad anymore because there are so many shows coming out of so many different kinds that affect different people in too many ways. Maybe we’ll never really know what effect it has on children.

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