When you think about it, television has a lot to teach us, and you don't even have to tune into your local PBS station to learn. I'll be honest, these days I'm learning a lot from reality shows, for better or for worse. House teaches me a lot about medicine and Bones teaches me a lot about pathology, but these 7 shows that can teach you a lot have subtler lessons – and they really are quite important.
1 My Big Redneck Wedding
I'm a country girl. I grew up Southern. A lot of the weddings I see on this show make sense to me. Yes, some of them are ludicrous and many of the featured couples may seem like they come from another planet – but they don't. They're just Southern. That's a whole other culture, and I think this show can teach a lot about tolerance and learning to respect someone else's way of life … even when it involves mud wrestling.
2 Toddlers and Tiaras
This show is a teeny tiny trainwreck full of both, yes, toddlers and tiaras. I see a lot of things I do not like on this show. I'm not at all judgmental about pageantry, because I've seen well rounded parents and children who do it. However, I think the bad examples of parents and children can teach you a lot about how you interact with your kids.
3 16 and Pregnant
I know this show gets a lot of flack, and I understand why – but I also think it's an important program. MTV needs to watch what they're doing, since there are now reports of high school teenage girls getting pregnant so they can get on the show. Otherwise, I think teens can learn a lot about how important it is to practice safe sex or abstinence, and parents can learn about how to handle the situation if it happens to their family.
4 Teen Mom
This show gets a lot of flack as well. Heck, I've given it a lot. But forgetting the players in the show, the premise is a highly important one. Teens need to know what it's like to be a parent at such a young age – or what they can experience if they go with adoption, for example. Again, MTV needs to be careful and rethink how they're portraying certain aspects, but otherwise, drama aside, this can showcase a lot of useful reality.
5 Top Chef
Top Chef can teach a lot about cooking – awesomeness! Honestly, though, in the endless seasons of the show, I personally have learned a lot about pairing different foods, using wines, about cooking methods and all kinds of things. Any amateur chef can find numerous gyms throughout all the seasons of this show.
6 Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives
This show is great for teaching you about all the stellar little eateries hiding all over the United States, especially. I've learned about places in Boston I never would have known about otherwise, and the show's actually been great for Salem, in particular, since showcasing the famed Lobster Shanty (I ate there before it was famous!). Plus, Guy is just full of awesome sauce.
7 Tabatha's Salon Takeover
I used to hate this show, and Tabatha herself. The Better Half got me into watching it, however, and I warmed up to both. You can learn a lot from this show about hair and about salons. For instance, you can learn about what to look for in a good salon, and why you might want to steer clear of any place that seems to incorporate all of those things Tabatha hates.
Say what you will about reality TV, but it spans a large, long spectrum. There really is something for everybody. What do you learn about from different television shows?
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