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Why Can't Gifted Producers Show Gifted TV Characters in a Positive Light?

In some New York City neighborhoods, close to fifty percent of the children score in the top 10th percentile on pre-Kindergarten IQ tests, and thus qualify for a Gifted & Talented program (the fact that there aren't nearly enough seats to accommodate everyone who qualifies is yet another failure of the Department of Education; the fact that district G&T curriculum is no different from the General Education curriculum, is another one).

The reason for the high-scores is unknown. Some speculate that NYC simply attracts a high-achieving demographic. After all, if you can make it there (here), you'll make it anywhere. Why shouldn't that apply to four year olds, too? Another possibility is that the simple stimulation of NYC, from the plethora of art and science museums, to the challenge of navigating your way down a busy city sidewalk, jump-starts an NYC tot's brain in a way that life in the suburbs does not.

Whatever the reason, there are a lot of brilliant, talented and accomplished people living in New York City. The same holds true for Los Angeles, where the competitiveness of the entertainment industry guarantees only the very, very best rising to the top.

The bulk of American television is produced in the above two cities, by some of the smartest people in the country. Why then, does television have such a hard time presenting gifted children and adults in anything but a negative light?

According to BlogHer's post, What TV Gets Wrong About Smart Kids (and Adults):

You know what I would really love? I would really love it if there was at least a smattering of programming available that didn't suggest being a smart, bookish kid is truly a fate worse than death, guaranteeing social isolation, the disdain of your peers and a loveless adulthood. Intelligence also apparently causes asthma, adenoids, near-sightedness, acne, muscle weakness and obesity. (For those of us from a previous TV generation, see Urkel, Doogie, the entire Head of the Class, The Smart Guy and more.)

The Simpsons' Lisa has now spent 20+ years not being challenged academically, mercilessly teased by her popular (and proudly underachieving) brother and her classmates. Even her teacher, parents and principal find Lisa a little know-it-all and automatically dismiss whatever she has to say. On the other hand, a lot of Lisa's problems are of her own making. On every occasion when she's given the opportunity to attend a more challenging school, skip a grade or fraternize with equally intellectually gifted peers, Lisa panics and ends up begging to go back to "being a big fish in a small pond." This actually is a common problem with real-life gifted children. Because so much comes so easily to them for so long, they grow terrified of taking chances, possibly failing and being proven not as smart as everyone (but most importantly, they) believe. After two decades of whining about being surrounded by idiots, wouldn't it be nice if Lisa stopped blaming her isolation on everybody else and took a good, hard look at how she contributes to it?

Read more, including case studies from Modern Family, ANT Farm, The Big Bang Theory and more, here. Plus, find out who the most well-adjusted genius on TV is - it's a real shocker!

And make sure to leave a comment sharing your thoughts!

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