Why Your “Friendship”; With Your Favorite TV Character Is a Good Thing

This type of special friendship has a name-a parasocial relationship-and it could even be good for you. Here's why.
2 / 3

Mr Big Sex and the City

In a television landscape littered with stick-thin, sickly-sweet female role models, women who came of age in the nineties may remember MTV’s Daria as a welcome breath of fresh air. Laura, the business student, certainly does. “Watching Daria—this sarcastic, sardonic girl who was vaguely angry and felt above everyone else—she was like a beacon of light.” Daria reminded Laura that there were other girls like her, even if they didn’t exist en masse in her hometown.

Even with characters we might not like in real life (think: Don Draper or Dr. House), we develop strong connections. In some ways, it’s an exercise in empathy. “Even the most hated characters have traits that make them capable of loving other people and make other people capable of loving them,” says Chris. “We don’t fall for people who are perfect; we fall for ones who also have flaws.”

Stage 2: The Intimacy Phase

After years of watching Chris Noth as mysterious Mr. Big of Sex and the City fame, I once caught an episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent, where Noth plays a well-suited detective, and thought to myself, “So that’s what Mr. Big does in his secret life!” Sure, it might sound crazy, but when we get really close to a character, they naturally start to become real to us.

Mariska Hargitay, known for her role as sex crime detective Olivia Benson on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, is so strongly associated with her character that real-life sex crime victims often seek out her help. In fact, Hargitay received so much fan mail from women sharing personal stories of rape or abuse that she founded The Joyful Heart Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse heal and reclaim their lives.

Read Bridget Jones to Liz Lemon: What’s Your Fictional Character Attachment Style?

The reason we trust fictional characters so fully—even when we know they’re really actors—might come down to brain science. “There’s evidence that we are hard-wired to believe what we see, even if we know that it’s fiction,” says Jonathan Cohen, Ph.D., professor of communication studies at the University of Haifa in Israel. “It requires effort to remind ourselves that what we are watching is not really there, like when you remind yourself that ‘it’s just a movie’ during a scary scene.”

Often, people simply choose not to separate fact from fiction, says Cohen. “After all, people on TV always look better, sound smarter and are more effective than the doctors, cops or lawyers we meet in daily life.” (You mean FBI detectives don’t always look like Bones’ Agent Booth? Please, say it ain’t so!)

In many ways, parasocial relationships tend to mirror the real world. In fact, your attachment style, meaning the way you typically think, feel and act in close relationships, affects your TV friendships too. “Anxiously attached people”—those who want to be close to others but often worry that loved ones will leave them—“are more likely to go overboard with parasocial relationships, whereas securely attached viewers”—those who feel confident and comfortable in relationships—“are likely to enjoy them and keep them in perspective,” says Cohen. That’s the same pattern you’d see in real life relationships.


follow BettyConfidential on... Pinterest


Read More About...
Related Articles...

10 thoughts on “Why Your “Friendship”; With Your Favorite TV Character Is a Good Thing

  1. Extraordinary things like this happen and it's these incidents that help us go on though anything and not give up or give in. A ray of light may shine on you when you least expect it and a true friendship can be born in the most unusual circumstances.

  2. Envision discovering you might be the co-owner of one's business as opposed to the sole operator, or which you have a satellite tv business an individual didn’t find out about operating in the different express, or there exists a business using a similar name employing a similar deal with to the one you have pretending being your enterprise.businesslawalert.net

  3. In the past, when civilization flourished down the banks involving rivers along with in pond valleys, if your transport system what food was in early ancient form, bullock basket horse influenced carriage being really the only means, one civilization flourished down the plains in the Indus plus the Ganges.lowcostmobile

  4. Commonly speaking, the time period 'communications technology' can talk about any technology that permits its consumers to communicate against each other. Using this specific (granted loose) explanation, two-way radios and mobiles fall in the category involving 'communications technological innovation.communitechdatabase

  5. Theft is often a major worry to trucking the trucking industry. Truck drivers will likely need to stop occasionally while travelling for foodstuff, lodging, and fuel way up. When your truck can be left un monitored, many thieves still find it a perfect possiblity to make off of with the two truck as well as cargo.securtech

  6. The common video croping and editing software found on recent Windows operating systems is termed Windows Video Maker. By making use of this software, you could upload videos for a computer, revise them using transitions along with titles, perhaps narration, and come up with a movie of your family to turn to DVD MOVIE.windowsmoviemaker

Leave a Reply

top of page jump to top