“Believe it or not, George isn’t at home, please leave a message at the beep.” So what happens when you can’t get George? Some viewers have a tough time. “Get out.” No, it’s true, according to a study published in the journal Mass Communication and Society. [Julie Lather and Emily Moyer-Gusé, "How Do We React When Our Favorite Characters Are Taken Away? An Examination of a Temporary Parasocial Breakup"]
Researchers got input from over 400 college students in the spring of 2008, when a writers strike meant no new TV shows. “You’re freaking me out.” You and some of the students. They were asked about how much TV they watched and why. Reasons for watching included to kill time, relax or escape. But people who watched for companionship were most distressed by the loss of their shows. “Well, good luck with all that.”
The study might disappoint anyone who thinks the loss of TV would impel people to engage in more so-called real activities, such as socializing. “Look, we’ll go to Third Avenue.” Because most people didn’t go anywhere. They simply turned to watching reruns or surfing the Web. Just 18 percent said they spent more time with friends and family. “Well, thank you, sir.” You’re quite welcome.
—Steve Mirsky, George, Jerry, Elaine and Cosmo
[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]