Growing up I wanted to become a doctor and in retrospect, I cannot deny that this was possibly due to me watching Grey’s Anatomy in my early teens. Re-watching the show now, as a fully-grown adult (okay, almost fully-grown, after all, I only turn 21 in a few weeks) I understand why. Grey’s Anatomy has a reputation as a chick-flick but it is so much more than that (check out my rant on twitter about this a few months ago). Surely, it has a bunch of relationship drama and I doubt everyone in a hospital can be that good looking, but it also has a ton of badass women which signaled that women can be and do anything. While I doubt making a choice about your future career based on a TV show is the best way to go, I wonder if people (especially young girls) would at least consider becoming an economist if there was a show about economists as cool as Grey’s Anatomy.
Therefore, my pitch for: “Kaul’s Regression Analysis” (if you’re a producer/work in media DM me).
We follow a young female economist who is a researcher and lecturer at a University and her colleagues through their daily life of enticing research ideas, the struggle to find grants (and motivation), and, of course, relationship drama (full disclosure, I’m only in my second year of studying economics so I don’t know too much about what the life of an economist truly looks like, but then again, I doubt Grey’s Anatomy accurately reflects the life of a doctor). I imagine scenes with the protagonist sitting in a beautiful café with perfect lighting as she drinks her coconut latte and tries to find causal relationships in her data. Other characters could include a quirky but loveable research assistant, students at the university, her colleagues and many more. Each season could be concerned with one big research question like why do fewer women than men study economics (maybe the answer will be that there’s no cool show about economists, who knows?). Then each episode would be partly concerned with getting closer to answering that question, but will also discuss the “fun” sides of economics, like interesting papers and obscure findings – Freakonomics style.
All joking aside I do think changing the public image about economics could be beneficial to the discipline. My roommate confessed to me yesterday that he doesn’t really know what economics is (after we’ve been living together for two years) and that he always just thinks its finance. I think this misconception is widespread because whenever economics is mentioned in the media it’s in the context of financial markets or the financial crisis. This portrayal, however, doesn’t do justice to a discipline as broad as economics which could include anything from gender bias to environmental issues and risk assessment. Efforts such as the Freakonomics Books and the Planet Money podcasts that make economics fun and understandable to non-economists are a first step in making economics go mainstream and thus attractive to a broader audience. Because the potential research question I mentioned earlier (why do fewer women than men study economics) is a real puzzle that could partly be explained by how women perceive the climate in economics and their chances for success. Because if economics is perceived as mainly finance, and any economist you have ever seen or heard of is a white dude that signals women that this is just not the place for you, regardless of the fact that they have the grades (and the brains) to succeed. I imagine more creative solutions and ideas for society if economics was able to draw on a more diverse talent pool with different, original ideas. Hence my pitch for a prime-time show featuring an unrealistic share of attractive people playing economists showing how fun, exciting and diverse economics can be.