The movies and TV shows we watch carry messages with them, ranging from good to bad and from beautiful to ugly. With an array of options to choose from, how can we best curate a watchlist worthy of our time?
Compiling watchlists has become a sort of hobby of mine. I love scrolling through my lengthy Netflix queue. There’s a checklist of British miniseries on the front of my fridge and a page filled with K-drama recommendations in the notes on my phone. I love to escape to fantastical kingdoms, far-off lands, and parallel worlds. And with endless options to explore, I’ve found that it’s easy to get swept away into just about anything.
In her Ensign article “Media with Merit,” Katherine Nelson writes that our watchlists often end up full of distraction from what really matters. She points out that it’s important to recognize that every piece of media we touch—every scene and every episode—has a lasting, significant effect upon us. “You are what you eat” becomes “you are what you watch.” And because entertainment often serves as time to relax and escape the world, we can easily slip into thoughtless consumption.
Nelson assures us that the best TV shows and films—and other forms of media, for that matter—are those that remind us of gospel principles. They may turn our thoughts toward divine character attributes, toward our families, or even toward the Savior Jesus Christ. Every time you read a plotline or press play on a preview, pay attention to the message it portrays. Reflect on the feelings that message conjures up in you. If the thoughts and feelings you have while watching are positive, add that movie or miniseries to your watchlist—and enjoy a brief sojourn away from the world. Nelson writes, “Virtuous, lovely, and praiseworthy entertainment—media with merit—edifies us, prepares us for life’s challenges, and strengthens our discipleship.” The Holy Ghost, she describes, will leave us feeling refreshed when the credits roll.
Read Katherine Nelson’s full article “Media with Merit” to learn more about what to look for and what to avoid in the media you consume.
—Caroline Stickel, Latter-day Saint Insights
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Find more insights
Read “Is Media Always Bad?” by Jesse King to learn about how negative media can put us down and how positive media can lift us up.
Read and watch Elder M. Russell Ballard’s general conference address “Let Our Voices Be Heard” to explore the contrast between the dangers of explicit entertainment and the benefits of uplifting media.