10 Movies and Tv Shows That Changed My Life (and Will Change Yours Too)


Quarantine or no quarantine, my eyes are always glued to my television. Growing up as an awkward girl with no friends and no one to relate to, I have longed to find others that can relate to my fellow awkwardness or those who I can aspire to be. While I have always had family that I can lean on for more personal and specific advice, I always find qualities of myself through characters or real people on TV.

So from me to you, I would like to show you 10 movies and tv shows that have influenced my life and will hopefully help guide you.

10) Eat, Pray, Love

Yes, I know this is a stereotypical chick flick. Yes, I know that many chick flicks are cheesy but here me out. For anyone who has never seen this classic starring Julia Roberts, I’ll break it down for you. The film is based on an autobiographical novel written by Elizabeth Gilbert. The film and book’s premise is of Gilbert reaching what she thought was the picture-perfect life.  A  loving husband, a very wealthy home in the heart of New York City, and a very successful writing career. However, after years of “perfection,” she found herself going through what seemed like a midlife crisis full of confusion, routine, and a search for what she really wanted in life. Realizing she wanted more in life, she divorced her husband and found herself at a crossroads, so she did something that everyone in her life thought was crazy and gave up her perfect life in New York. She embarked on a year-long journey around the world that became a quest for self-discovery. She spent the first quarter of the year in Italy, delving into food and hot Italian men. She then spends the second quarter in India, rediscovering religion and the importance of prayer. Finally, spends the last portion in Indonesia where she inadvertently falls in love with a random Portuguese man and they ride into the sunset. I first looked at this movie when I was 14 years old and “sick” at home with a horrible toothache, and even though this movie is known to be a typical chick flick full of food and unrealistic travel experiences. I’ve always seen this film to have a deeper meaning.

This movie goes way beyond the narrative of a middle-aged woman falling in love with a random man after a year of traveling. It shows you the power of self-discovery and perseverance. Gilbert’s constant interactions with different groups of people with very different backgrounds and beliefs helped her realize that she didn’t need to lean on anyone for love and happiness. She had herself and as long as she has that love with another is a secondary pleasure you can gain at any time in her life. The fact that she went the majority of the film alone then the final portion finding a man she can share her self love with shows that you can indeed find love with another, but if she didn’t find the love she had for herself first, she would be unable to love anyone else.  This movie shows that no matter what age you are (20, 30, 40 50, etc) it is never too late to take the reins of your life and be in control of your own narrative.

9) Black Swan

This is one of the first films I’ve seen that truly opened up my eyes to the true extent of mental illness and how it affects people from different economic and racial backgrounds. This film, starring actress Natalie Portman, is a 2010 American psychological horror film that is based on Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Broadway play “Swan Lake”. The lead character Nina, played by Portman, is a ballerina dancer for the New York City Ballet Company. She is auditioning for her dream role as the lead for the White Swan and Black Swan. The White Swan is innocent and fragile which describes Nina’s personality perfectly but the Black Swan is dark, sensual, edgy, and rebellious; the exact opposite of Nina. She eventually gets the lead for both but quickly becomes overwhelmed by the preparation for the lead, causing her to lose her grip on reality, fall into madness and deep psychosis. Throughout the movie Nina “discovers” scratches and bleeding on her body, seemingly derived from self-injury, however many can interpret these scratches as her shedding out of her old skin full of trepidation (White Swan) and morphing into a woman full of power, control, and confidence (Black Swan). In reality, she is showing signs of high-level anxiety disorder along with obsessive-compulsive disorder and personality disorder.

There are many themes from this movie but one of the most important ones is her journey to achieve artistic perfection which required sacrifice. To achieve that perfection, it required her to sacrifice herself completely. I feel like this movie is a beautiful depiction of the emotional and psychological stress that unravels from a person who has no sense of self but has to conform to unachievable perfection. The evolution of the black swan, at the demise of the white swan, is a running theme in many aspects of contemporary life. To achieve excellence in any form of life or art, you will always balance on the bean of insanity. In order to find yourself, you need to realize you’re lost. Nina’s death at the end (which is very controversial as many believe she’s not dead) is interoperated differently among different people. I see it as her becoming a woman, and shattering her timid persona, embracing her shadow (black swan). Nina had been hiding her dark nature in fear that she would lose control/ lose herself. As a result, her old self has to die in order for her to become her greatest self. However, she is not able to live in harmony with both notions and in order for her to live her dream. She must be willing to sacrifice herself completely and indeed die. So yes, I believe that she does die in the end and it brings up the question of what are you willing to sacrifice for perfection?

8) The Secret Life Of The American Teenager

Even though this show changed the way I viewed early adulthood. I must admit that this is one of the cheesiest shows I’ve ever watched in full. There are many multi-layered storylines for all characters, but in short, the show is centered around a high school freshman, Amy, and her teen pregnancy along with her frenemies struggles with being teenagers. This show covers all the issues many teenagers struggle with such as teen pregnancy, miscarriages’ troubled relationships, sexual abuse, physical abuse, death, slut-shaming, financial troubles, lost friendships, etc. I still can’t believe the writers for this show were able to fit as many storylines as they did during the five seasons it was on air. I also can’t believe that the majority of them aired as they dealt with many hard topics that are taboo in many households. While this show is catered among teenagers and young adults, everyone who looks at it will leave with at least one life lesson or burning memory.

7) Make It Or Break It

I’m halfway through watching this series and even though it might seem a little juvenile, I’m slowly learning life lessons through the characters. The show follows four aspiring gymnasts, all of different social and economic backgrounds, as they juggle teenagehood and their dreams of going to the Olympics. Many of the issues dealt with on the show range from common teen problems such as friendship/relationship drama and body image issues, to more complex problems such as financial instability and marital affairs. Along with Black Swan, I find that this show proposes the question of what are you willing to do to achieve your dreams?

6) The Bold Type

When this show first premiered, I was in the midst of a horrible breakup and starting to apply to colleges aka I was in the midst of a teenage-life crisis. After looking at the first episode, I knew I was hooked. The best way to describe this show is a modern spin on “Sex and The City” but with a younger generation. The show is centered around three best friends who work in entry-level positions for a popular magazine company. It follows each of the friends as they struggle with working at one of the most popular media platforms in the world, along with cringy relationships, and of course financial problems. While I understand this show is fictional, there are many life lessons that can be learned from this series, such as don’t sleep with your boss, sometimes your friends can be more meaningful than your family, and to follow your dreams.

5) Sex and The City

More specifically the TV series… not much the movie. This show has changed almost every woman who has seen it. This show provides so many life lessons such as advice on sex, relationships, friendships, careers, family, and much more. It is impossible to look at this show and not leave with at least five life lessons and sore vocal cords from constant laughter. Everyone relates to at least one of the characters and while I would like to think I’m a Samantha, I feel like I am more of a Carrie mixed with a hint of Charlotte. This show is iconic and while I do enjoy the films, there is nothing that can even come close to recreating the legend that is this show.

4) Wild

This 2014 film follows a middle-aged woman, Cheryl Strayed, as she leaves behind her challenging life and sets out alone to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, which is one of the hardest trails in the U.S. She is in the midst of what seems like a midlife crisis as a result of her failed marriage and the loss of her mother who she was very close to. The more I look at this movie, the more I’m starting to feel like I’m turning into Cheryl, as troubling as that sounds. I would like to believe I have myself together but, all that’s holding me up is a thin band-aid that’s about to snap. If it does snap, I can become like Cheryl and in five, ten, or fifteen years from now try to hike up the PCT wondering where my life’s gone. I’ve learned a lot of life lessons through this movie (which is also a book) and I am trying every day to live my life the opposite of Cheryl.

3)  Forrest Gump

This is my favorite movie of all time. This is one of the only films I’ve seen that I have related to at every point in my life. I can’t believe that there are people who roam this earth that think that is movie is horrible and one of the worst to ever been made. I will defend this film to the end, and you will not be allowed in my life if you have even a slight bit of criticism. I feel like this is a movie everyone has seen at least once so you should know the overall premise. If you have been living under a rock for the past 20+ years, I will give you a short description. The film follows Forrest Gump as he grows up from a little boy in the south to an adult man and the many lives he lives in between. He is also in love with his childhood crush, Jenny, who has many issues of her own. The film loosely follows her growth as well. This film discusses everything including childhood bullies, Watergate, drug abuse, parental abuse, and much more. No one should look at this film and not relate to at least one aspect of it, as it is truly a movie that has aged well.

2)  Pit Bulls & Parolees

This reality show follows the day-to-day lives of employees at the Villalobos Rescue Center (VRC) located in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the pets (mostly Pit Bulls) they care for. I normally hate reality shows, as I believe the majority is staged but this has proven to be the exception. You can tell that everyone who works at that shelter has an unbreakable bond and loyalty to pets. They will do anything to make sure that no pet is left alone or abused. VRC is a no-kill shelter and has an intensive adoption process that ensures all the pets adopted out, is going to a loving and stable forever home that will leave everyone happy. A show that you can watch alone or with your family and leave everyone hopeful and happy.

1) Shameless (U.S)

This is my favorite TV show of all time and deserves every award it’s nominated for. I don’t even know where to begin when it comes to describing this masterpiece. The series follows a very poor and dysfunctional family of Frank Gallagher, a neglectful, drug and alcohol addict father of six (Fiona, Ian, Lip, Debbie, Carl, and Liam). He spends the majority of his days on drunk adventures and in return, has left his kids to care for themselves. The mother, Monica, who is rarely shown, suffers from bipolar disorder and also struggles with drug and alcohol abuse. This is yet another show that everyone can relate to at least one aspect of their lives. I hope no one actually relates to the majority of the character’s storylines because that can be depressing but, if you do at least you have a show that can relate to your pain. Shameless covers everything from extreme poverty, weird sex, deadly drug and alcohol abuse, and raising children all in a dramedy style format.