“Medium” by Marilyn Cabales

Posted: June 15, 2012 in Vol. 1: Spring Essays 2012

What I’ll be discussing in this essay is whether the show Medium encourages or discourages cognitive thinking based on the pilot episode.  I’ll do this by using my personal experience with the show, using evidence from the article “Watching TV Makes You Smarter,” and using other theories we learned in class.

The episode started with Alison Dubois interviewing a man, in an interrogation room, about how he found his wife, murdered.  As he kept talking, he drew attention to Alison by talking about her white skin and how amazing it would look when blood would run down her skin if he cut her throat.  That scene cut to her waking up in her bedroom; she had just seen a vision of this man in her dream.  She had been having these dreams often enough for her husband to take notice.  Her husband, Joseph Dubois, started documenting these dreams two years prior and collected a number of vicious visions. Alison’s visions were becoming an obstacle for her career path.  She was interning for the District Attorney because she was trying to become a lawyer.  However, the visions and dreams that she received made it impossible for her to remain objective in a case.  Her frustrations were obvious to her husband, so he took it upon himself to take a random vision that she had and faxed it to the authorities.  This caught the attention of the Texas Police Department, and they requested she to go to Texas to see if she was legit. During this whole process, she was continuously badgered by the skeptical main detective. Even with the detective’s condescending manner, she was able to prove him wrong over and over again.  Because of her input on the case for a murder-rape trial of a 6-year-old boy by a 17-year-old boy, she was able to provide justice as well as closure to this cold case.  Because of her success with this case, the District Attorney that she was interning for decided to hire her for her services as a medium.  The end scene cycled back to the beginning of the episode where she was in an interrogation room interviewing the same man that was in her vision.

This episode, and this show in general, allows us to enter the world of crime-solving.  Most of society would never enter an interrogation room or a conference room filled with a group of detectives discussing a serious crime.  It showed us, step-by-step, how they use evidence and intuition to put together a theory about what happened. Solving crimes definitely stimulates cognitive thinking.  I found myself trying to solve problems in this show in the same way before the conclusion is ever revealed.  What this show also does is expose us to different terms that we otherwise would never understand if it weren’t for their use in the show.

For instance, a conversation took place between two scientists talking about wheat germ.  The lines were strategically written to make sure the audience was able to understand the scientific jargon.  This was done by having the scientists take turns stating the facts by using questions and by validating their ideas with the other party in the conversation.  In fact, there was a scene where Alison was stating the facts of a crime scene with the use of slides to help a group of attorneys understand what was going on in a particular murder case.  In one of the slides, she stated more than what the physical evidence provided because of what she saw in her vision.  When the lawyers recognized this, they started to question her because they did their job by the textbook.  They began to state their own facts, based on their personal knowledge of being lawyers, to contradict her statement.  This scene helped me to understand how people in the crime-solving profession come to conclusions.

What I also noticed about this show was the lack of dead space.  There was always something going on in the episode, making you want to keep up with the storyline.  Let’s say if you went to the bathroom and you missed a minute of the show, the rest of the episode would probably make absolutely no sense.  This is because shows nowadays are becoming more complex.  The time of simple-story plots like “Full House” are gone.  This is because shows like that can be boring to this generation of T.V. viewers who are cognitive thinkers.

There must also be a downside to this show.  I could argue this show is keeping society from their need to read.  Instead of reading a crime-solving story in a novel, people are taking the easy way out by watching crime-solving shows on television.  This may prevent society from learning how to use proper grammar; if you’re not constantly seeing the correct use of grammar, you probably won’t be able to use it properly on your own.  As I was growing up, I felt that I was able to speak grammatically well compared to the other students in the classroom.  However, when I went to college, I found myself in a remedial English class because of my poor writing skills.  I attribute this to watching television shows rather than reading books.  I could also argue that this show embodies Karl Marx’s theory of false consciousness.  This show may be encouraging people to think that if you can enjoy this show, that means it’s one of your interests; maybe this means you should work in the crime-solving business.  I saw that one of the community colleges of the University of Hawaii was now offering an A.A. Degree for Criminal Justice. Having this opportunity available and having that false consciousness created by shows like Medium can create a vast number of Criminal Justice majors that later find themselves dissatisfied with what they had chosen.  This unfortunate event could result in a waste of time and a waste of money.  I’m sure lots of college students can relate to this situation.  It can also be said that this show, along with the media in general, has created an over-stimulated society.  Is there a reason why there always has to be ominous music playing in the background whenever Alison is having a murderous vision or is walking into a crime scene?  The answer is it creates more suspense; without it, it’s almost boring.  Today’s audience is used to a format of television shows that have a lot of suspense, comedy, or visual effects.  In turn, this makes us fill in the space in our own lives in order to make it less boring.  Most times, I am unable to do homework without something playing in the background.  For some reason it helps me to concentrate, but it may be decreasing my ability to retain what I’ve learned which defeats the whole purpose of doing the work.

Medium yields both positive and negative arguments for whether or not it helps cognitive thinking.  It exposes us to experiences and terminology that we would otherwise never encounter in real life, but it also hinders our grammatical skills and homework-doing abilities.  The shows are filling up the dead space in television shows with constant moving of the story to keep up with growing numbers of cognitive thinkers, but it’s aiding our over-stimulated society to remain over-stimulated.

We can’t blame the media solely for creating a society of avid T.V. viewers.  They are exploiting us through T.V. programming, but the quality of T.V. programming has improved the thinking of society in general.  T.V. for me is like the Internet; it is a faster way to take in information.  I would rather research the Internet for information than wade through a number of books; I would rather enjoy a television show that lasts about an hour than read through a book that would take me days to finish.


Written for Dr. David Odhiambo’s ENG 200: Composition II


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