Five Life Lessons I Learned From Television

With tuition fees topping £9,000 a year, the young of today may well abandon hopes of university in favour of more proletarian means of education. Happily for them, telly’s been around for a good 60 or 70 years and has packed in most of life’s important lessons. Let us gift you an education with five programmes that will teach you everything you need to know about of life:

Lesson 1: The Simpsons
Few things stay great forever. They become familiar, they lose their sheen and they stop needing to challenge you. Fans’ll tell you The Simpsons is as funny as it’s ever been, but there’s a reason they have to tell us that: success brings you into the mainstream and you lose your edge.

If you had taken up that course in History of Art at Bangor, your first semester would’ve been full of all-night parties, golf-themed pub crawls and girls kissing each other. That wouldn’t have held out until you were 23 let alone 40. The parties would have become drinks, the pub crawls lost the themed T-shirts and the girls got worried about chapped lips. You are better off out of it.

Lesson 2: Edge of Darkness
Obviously it’s important that we all appreciate the importance of properly handling nuclear materials, but Troy Kennedy Martin’s seminal 1985 thriller contains another notable lesson.

Bob Peck’s portrayal of a grieving father is a masterclass in measured performance. Towards the end of the first episode, he walks his house, feeling the absence of his murdered daughter. He enters her room and slowly and delicately looks through her possessions, finding in each a little secret or a touching reminder. And then, in one of British television’s most tender and bizarre moments HE KISSES HER VIBRATOR.

Now, I’ve no doubt grief can do strange things to men and we probably shouldn’t judge Peck too harshly for this. What we can do is take our second life lesson: keep your sex toys, porn stash and other paraphernalia and other assorted goodies well hidden. Even in the event of your assassination, you don’t want your parents fondling them.

Lesson 3: Mad Men
Gents: women love a bastard. Just take a look at Don Draper. He can fake his own death, assume another man’s identity and cheat on his wife like he’s a JFK tribute act. Yet Jon Hamm still adorns a thousand women’s wet dreams. Conclusion: you can get away with anything if you have broad shoulders.

Ladies: men are vain, childish, self-centred, self-mythologising, philandering success stories. You can love us for that, you can hate us for that, but everyone of us has a conniving little toe rag hidden somewhere deep inside. But we will put on suits and do pushups if it means you love us more.

Lesson 4: The Sarah Jane Adventures
Things end. Sometimes, as with the sad passing of Elisabeth Sladen, you won’t be expecting it. Other times, as with the series, you know the end is coming. Like leaving uni, you can big it up, say what a shame it is that it’s all at an end, but the credits will still be rolling and you’ll still be pulling out of that student-filled street on a drizzly Tuesday afternoon in the cold.

Talk to a lot of graduates and they’ll tell you the last year of uni was the least exciting. Life becomes familiar and you take it for granted. You’ll move on and only realise in retrospect what you left behind. And that hurts at 17, 19 or 23. God knows what it’ll feel like at 70.

Lesson 5: University Challenge
You’re an idiot. Get used to it.