I watch a lot of television, so I’m constantly asking people if they’ve seen or heard a particular thing in hopes of utilizing a brilliant reference, only to be disappointed by their lack of knowledge. This also means that I’ve heard a lot of the stories that TV shows tend to show all the time — unrequited love; friends falling in love; 20-something, thin, white people coming of age; older white people in unhappy marriages.

But my favorites are almost always the shows that tell a story that hasn’t been told before. This past summer, I was lucky enough to be exposed to quite a few works that were telling stories we normally don’t get to hear.

The most popular of these is “Orange is the New Black,” the Netflix series that everyone seemed to obsess over this summer. And for good reason: This show is unlike anything I’ve ever watched before. The story centers around Piper Chapman, a yuppie with a line of bath products who’s sent to jail for drug trafficking she’d been a part of almost a decade ago. At first, I was worried — was it just going to be another story about an attractive white girl with a savior complex?

Thankfully, that’s not the show. It’s very self-aware that its main character can be really annoying — though still compelling — and uses its ensemble cast to present the type of women we don’t normally see on television.

The actresses shine in their roles, helping the show effortlessly switch between moments of laughter-worthy antics and poignant sadness. There’s the Russian chef who wanted to make her husband happy, the track star who sought adventure, the young woman who got caught up in her mother’s criminal enterprises, the transsexual woman who wants to stay with her wife. Their stories are complex and intriguing, and seeing these women represented on a wildly popular series is not only good entertainment but also empowering for many who identify with them and are rarely acknowledged in pop culture.

This summer, I found a show I could identify with, too. At the suggestion of a friend, I started watching “My Mad Fat Diary,” a British series about overweight teenager Rae Earl as she struggles with depression, friendships, family, self-esteem and everything that comes with being 16 in the 1990s. Having been that overweight teen battling the difficulties of high school (while also enjoying Oasis a bit more than I should), seeing someone like me portrayed on screen was amazing.

There’s no character on television quite like Rae. She’s insecure, but also aware of how awesome she is. Rae knows what she wants — it’s just that getting it is difficult for her. Occasionally, watching Rae on screen was difficult, because sometimes her experiences hit so close to home.

I was worried though — what if I liked this show only because I identified so strongly with Rae’s story? So I told my best friend, a stick-thin gay guy who had no ostensible reason to relate to the main character, to watch it. And he loved it too. He loved that it was telling a unique story the same way I did, even if he didn’t necessarily have the same experiences as Rae and me.

Yet, I don’t want to confuse. You shouldn’t watch “My Mad Fat Diary” or “Orange Is the New Black” and think that you suddenly understand all fat people or all transsexual people or all lesbians or all prisoners. Just as being exposed to a small handful of Georgetown students would undoubtedly not give you a clear picture of the diversity on campus, snapshots of the these women’s lives won’t give you the opportunity to extrapolate about whole groups of people.

Increased representations do help get rid of these stereotypes, though. When there are only a few transsexual people or fat people represented in the mainstream media, people put an enormous amount of pressure on them to speak for everyone within their respective marginalized group. That’s obviously misguided — every person can attest only to their specific experiences.

On a more concrete level, diverse stories make compelling television. No offense to Ross and Rachel or Harry and Sally, but attractive thirty-somethings falling in love in New York can get boring after a while.

Victoria Edel is a senior in the College. GIRL MEETS WORLD appears every Friday in the guide.

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