In the past two weeks since Donald Trump was elected the next president of the United States, my weekly TV schedule has seemed less important than ever. Sure, TV is good for escapism, but in the face of such horrific things happening in the real world, whether I’ll catch up on “How to Get Away with Murder” or make time to binge “Transparent” suddenly seems trivial.

Of course, I quickly remembered that in times of political turmoil, art is more important than ever. A wealth of smart pieces have been written about this already. Genevieve Koski recently quoted Roger Ebert’s famous speech in which he claims, “the movies are like a machine that generates empathy,” arguing that by setting out to engage with every piece of pop culture we encounter, we become more understanding people. The Michigan Daily’s own Dayton Hare suggested that artists are obligated to “bring people together into the oneness of human existence.”

As I caught up on my shows recently, I realized that part of the reason I assumed Hillary Clinton would become president is that I watch an overwhelming amount of progressive, liberal-minded TV. Most of my favorite new fall shows have female leads — “Fleabag” and “The Good Place,” for example. Most of my favorite returning shows have predominantly female casts with a wealth of roles for women of color, like “Jane the Virgin” and “Orange is the New Black.” Hollywood most definitely still has a long way to go in terms of bringing marginalized groups to the screen — just look at last year’s Oscars controversy — but we’re in a period of unprecedented onscreen diversity. Being so used to that diversity, so used to the feminist beliefs I see regularly espoused on my favorite shows, has only emphasized how much of a bubble I live in.

Living in a bubble can have negative consequences if you assume the rest of the world is the same as yours, but I don’t mean to say that these progressive shows got Trump elected. With the impending Trump presidency, it’s crucial that we continue to work to populate the TV landscape with people of all races, sexualities, gender identities and ages. Still, though — in this time of darkness, I remember how far TV and movies have come, and it gives me hope.

Take the recent trend of casual abortions on TV. In the past few weeks, three shows have featured women who make the decision to terminate their pregnancies without fanfare or excessive agonizing. Too often, abortion is portrayed as an absolute last resort, a tragic decision that women should only make in the case of rape or some particularly vulgar circumstance. Lindsay from “You’re the Worst” may be a terrible partner and a terrible person, but ultimately her choice to get an abortion is the sanest choice she’s made this season. Lindsay knows it would be irresponsible to raise a child with a man who frequently revolts her, and it would be cruel to use a child to force herself into staying in a marriage she doesn’t really want.

Meanwhile, what’s revolutionary about seeing Lindsay or Paula from “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” or Xiomara from “Jane the Virgin” get an abortion is that these women aren’t rape survivors, or teens who accidentally get pregnant and have to “pay the consequences.” These are middle-aged women who emphatically don’t want to have more children, so they choose not to. It’s that simple.

I also recently watched “Moonlight,” a film that’s so personal, layered and subversive that I don’t even know how to begin to explain its radicalness. “Moonlight” isn’t exactly a feel-good movie, but I left the theater in awe, convinced that writer-director Barry Jenkins was capable of really changing the way people think about race and sexuality.

Of all the art I’ve taken in since Nov. 8, though, nothing provoked so visceral and immediate a reaction in me as the season finale of “Better Things.” “Better Things” has brought tears to my eyes in more than half its episodes, but I was still shocked at my own reaction when I watched the last scene. As Sam and her daughters sing along to “Only Women Bleed” by Alice Cooper, the camera cuts to a wide shot of their minivan barreling down the highway, a single line of text below closing out the season: “dedicated to my daughters.”

There was something about that line that made me tear up every time I even remembered it for the rest of the day — something about the simplicity of it, the way it felt so quiet and elegant yet so enormously important. At the end of the day, we want our daughters to feel like they’re understood and respected and loved — not just because they’re our daughters, but because they’re people.

As an upper-middle class, straight, white male, I am the apotheosis of privilege. If “Moonlight” profoundly affected me, I can’t imagine how it must feel to be a gay Black boy watching his own identity — an identity rarely acknowledged, onscreen or otherwise — come to life. And as emotional as it made me, the dedication in “Better Things” must mean more to the women who see it, women who are regularly denigrated with cumulative microaggressions and explicitly hateful acts of violence.

Of course, we can’t let inclusive TV trick us into thinking the whole world is this open-minded. More importantly, we can’t let ourselves subside into complacency just because watching a show with an all-Black cast gives us the superficial appearance of social activists. I’m not advocating for ignoring reality and being blindly optimistic about the state of our country just because “Atlanta” and “Insecure” have been renewed for second seasons. I just think that in a time when it can be so hard to even log onto Twitter without seeing some heinous news pointing toward massive societal regression, the increasingly progressive state of TV is a small, hopeful sign. Sometimes, all you need to regain your faith in humanity is a little sign: a shot of a Black boy drenched in moonlight, or a four-word dedication. Sometimes, little signs are all we have.

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