What Your Favorite TV Shows Reveal About What You're Missing In Life, According To Psychology

Are you enamored with the Ross and Rachel love plot? It might say a lot about you.

hand holding tv remote Erik Mclean via Unsplash / namussi and Hadiiiben’s Images via Canva

Ever wondered why you're drawn to certain TV shows over others? One woman on TikTok, Grace, has an interesting theory for why that might be. Perhaps, our preference for certain television programs can disclose quite a bit about our unmet needs or unfulfilled desires. 

Your favorite TV shows may reveal what you're missing in life.

Grace is a huge Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fan, so it comes as no surprise that she detailed what she feels that she's missing in life that the hit Marvel TV show provides. 




In text over the video, she wrote, "Me trying to explain to everyone that the shows/movies we get attached to reflect what we are lacking in our real situation- and the reason we are so attached to them/ comforted by them is because that's what we want in reality."


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If your favorite TV show is 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine,' 'The Office' or 'Friends', you want a strong family connection.

The "found family" trope encapsulates Grace's favorite TV show. The "found family" or "family of choice" trope describes characters who feel disconnected for whatever reason from their biological family, so they seek out another.

Grace's favorite Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. follows a group of agents tasked with investigating "the new, strange and unknown around the globe," according to Disney+. This TV show, like Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy movie, follows a group of characters who find a family in each other along the way as they complete their dangerous quests. Grace shared exactly why she's drawn to the found family trope in a comedic yet enlightening comment. "I'm an agents of shield girlie #foundfamily #myparentsdontloveme," she wrote.

The desired reality of a group of misfits coming together to form their own family bond can likewise be found in fan-favorite shows like 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine,' 'The Office,' 'The Big Bang Theory,' and 'Grey's Anatomy.'


If your favorite TV show is 'Euphoria', you want more drama in your life.

'Euphoria' follows a teenage drug addict and is packed with high school drama that's equal parts hard to watch and hard to turn away from. Though the show's creator has said 'Euphoria' is targeted toward teens, its parent network HBO has a largely adult audience. As one Gen X woman wrote in an article for Slate, she is "totally engrossed" in the show despite not being its target audience. "As a Gen X girl, I am mesmerized by Euphoria’s Gen Z drama," she wrote. "The characters’ behavior is so outrageous and emotional. These high school kids feel everything. And when I watch it, I do too—shock, envy, sympathy, empathy, disgust, hope, disbelief and understanding. I might even call it a sense of camaraderie."

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If your favorite TV show is 'The Bachelor', you want more romance.

Despite the poor prognosis for couples who end up together on 'The Bachelor,' it remains one of the most-watched shows on television. "We know now that the couples don’t really stay together and it’s not a formula for lasting love," journalist and author Amy Kaufman has said in an interview. "But I think why we’re so obsessed with the show has something to do with our desire to have fantasy and romance in our life."

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If your favorite TV show is 'Family Guy' or 'Bob's Burgers,' you want to feel seen.

Shows like 'Family Guy', 'Bob's Burgers' and 'The Simpsons' are, on the surface level, absolutely ridiculous. However, they do a very good job of depicting what life is really like for most people: ironic and often dysfunctional. A 2016 'Vulture' article calls 'The Simpsons' "the greatest show in TV history" because it has gone "to more places — tonally and topically as well as geographically — tackled more issues, and told more jokes about more subjects than any comedy has before or since," all while also being able to find "a deep reservoir of emotion in its depiction of the Simpson family itself, as well as the complicated dynamics between husband and wife, brother and sister, father and daughter, student and teacher, spike-haired brat and gunboat-footed, Gilbert and Sullivan–loving maniac."

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If your favorite TV show is 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air', you want change.

Suppose you're someone who's captivated by the series "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," where the main character is suddenly dropped into a completely alien environment. Even though Will Smith finds a new family with his uncle and cousins, the show strongly focuses on being dropped into an alien situation. That might sound unappealing for many, but it can express a desire for change or an adventurous streak lying dormant within you. These kinds of narratives, underlined by themes of transformation and adaptability, might resonate with your yearning for a fresh start or a break from the usual.

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If your favorite TV show is 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer', 'Supernatural' or 'Stranger Things', you want to feel special.

"The chosen one" trope follows a character who is the only one who can resolve the plot. These shows depict a person or group of people fated to fight supernatural forces. Fans of this trope might be in search of a greater purpose in life, believing they are destined for more than what they currently have. It can be an empowering sentiment to believe you are the "chosen one." And it doesn't have to be saving the world from vampires! It can be as simple as the one person in the workplace who remembers people's birthdays.

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Studies show that we love the shows we love for multiple reasons.

According to a 2023 article from Everyday Health, rewatching our favorite TV shows makes us feel less lonely. Watching TV shows like those with the "found family" trope can make you feel like you're in their band too. 


But TV shows don't just reflect us; they also impact us. According to a 2020 study published in the National Library of Medicine, a movie or TV show can alter our ideas about types of people and ideas. However, not all of us are affected in the same way. The study showed that people can take opposite ideas from the same content. So, talking to others who have seen your favorite TV show might be a great way to get a deeper appreciation of its tropes — and maybe even yourself.

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Ethan Cotler is a writer and frequent contributor to YourTango living in Boston. His writing covers entertainment, news, and human interest stories.