8 TV Shows That Make You Smarter

Or will at least give you the vocabulary to sound smarter. I could add this to my list of Top 10 Benefits of Watching Television. Be sure to keep your Dictionary.com app open while you watch:

1.  Glee: Musicals may take center stage, but Jane Lynch’s ego-maniac Cheerio’s Coach Sue Sylvester uses some advanced vocabulary to insult her enemies. The next time you run into trouble, you may want to try: “I realize my cultural ascendance only serves to illuminate your own banality.” Or perhaps, “Even your breath stinks of mediocrity.” Burn!

2.  The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: It may be about truthiness and laughs, but The Daily Show, not unlike “The Colbert Report,” holds a lexical secret: its guests. Colbert and Stewart give air time to academics who address provocative and complex topics using some of the most advanced language on TV…before they’re lampooned, that is. 

3.  Fringe: Known for its quality research, this sci-fi series uses actual science terminology in entertaining and far-fetched ways. Crack open those textbooks and prepare to expand your vocabulary on fringe science topics such as mutants, rare diseases, chimeras and teleportation.

4.  Top Chef: The Emmy-winning reality TV competition is a delectable way to develop your taste buds and vocabulary. Its user-friendly cooking terminology may help you decipher a few challenging cookbook terms of your own. TV never sounded this tasty.

5.   Sesame Street: Ask any parent whose kids watch Elmo and Big Bird and you’ll learn how much viewers of any age glean from the show, with its references aimed at both grown-ups and children. “Sesame Street” is arguably the great refresher course.

6.  Yo Gabba Gabba: Brad Pitt played one of its characters this past Halloween, confirming this fun, kitschy, live-action show is special. Infectious songs and great lessons make this show entertaining and educational.   

7.   True Blood: For such a guilty pleasure, this vampire drama offers a remarkably sophisticated vocabulary. Mythological references are rampant, but medical, historical and political references sneak in like steamed vegetables blended into mashed potatoes. Sit back, relax and let the mythical adventures take your ears for a ride.

8.    Mad Men: Alas, we have another reason, besides Don Draper’s painfully good looks and Betty Draper’s perfect execution of 1960’s fashion, to watch this Emmy-winning drama. Proper grammar, ad agency lingo and subtle historical references make this show a vocabulary-expanding experience.  

What television shows do you think make you smarter? 

List provided by dictionary.com

See also: Top 10 TV Series With Pop Culture References 



  1. Breaking Bad… If you are looking to manufacture methamphetamine that is.

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