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The Winter TV Guide

Television networks are rolling out a slew of new winter programming, some replacing cancelled fall shows.

Which new shows might attract social worker fans? Here are’s picks:

Mereille Enos plays lead detective Sarah Linden and Joel Kinnaman is policeman Stephen Holder in The Killing.

The Killing (Premieres in March on AMC): This crime drama, which will open with the murder of a 17-year-old girl in Seattle, offers a new twist. It will follow not only the detectives trying to solve the case but also how the murder affects the victim’s parents and siblings.

Why social workers might like it: Social workers often assist crime victims or their survivors, helping them get grief counseling and other services.  Oftentimes police dramas overlook the aftermath of crimes, focusing more on nabbing the perpetrator. Wouldn’t it be great if The Killing featured a social worker?






Coming Home (Premieres in March 13 on Lifetime): In this reality show real-life military families get surprise reunions.

Why social workers might like it: The military employs more social workers with s master’s degree than any other sector. Social workers play a key role in helping military families cope with deployments, stress, and other issues.

Perfect Couples (Premieres Jan. 20 at 8:30 Eastern on NBC): This sitcom follows the antics of three couples with wildly different relationship styles.

Why social workers might like it: Social workers do a lot of family counseling. They  may get a kick out of a sitcom that tries to delve into how complicated relationships can be.

Shameless (Premieres Jan. 9 at 10 p.m. Eastern on Showtime): In this dark comedy critically acclaimed actor William H. Macy plays the alcoholic head of a dysfunctional but close knit family. Actress/singer Emmy Rossum (Phantom of the Opera) portrays Fiona, his 19-year-old daughter who bears the brunt of caring for her five siblings.

Why social workers might like it: Social workers help families overcome many crises, including drug and alcohol addiction, financial problems and mental illness. They may like this program for its unflinching look at issues many families experience.

Lights Out (Premieres Jan. 11 at 10 p.m. on FX): Actor Holt McAllany plays Patrick “Lights” Leary, a one-time boxing champion who is struggling to find a purpose in life outside the ring.

Why social workers might light it: Social workers help people of all ages improve their lives. In fact, the preamble of the National Association of Social Workers’ Code of Ethics says the main mission of the profession is to “enhance human well being and help meet the basic human needs of all people.” We think that means washed-up boxers too!

Harry’s Law (Premieres Jan. 17 at 10 p.m. Eastern on NBC): is a little biased on this one because we love actress Kathy Bates (remember her chilling portrayal of the psychopathic yet cheery book fan in “Misery”?). In this drama she plays lawyer Harriett “Harry” Korn.  Harry got fired from her high-powered job at a top Cincinnati law firm and decides to open her own practice in a shoe store. Despite her brusque exterior Harriett has a heart of gold. In fact she takes in a down-on-his-luck, suicidal ex-felon and makes him her legal aide.

Why social workers might like it: Most social workers have a soft spot for the most vulnerable in our society. They may find a new heroine in Harry.

Skins (Premieres Jan. 17 at 10 pm. On MTV): Based on a British series, this envelope-pushing drama follows teens who are dealing with sex, drugs, and other issues young people experience.

Why social workers might like it: Many social workers work in schools and have first-hand experience guiding teens through this critical phase of their lives. Social workers may be good judges of whether this program is accurate or simply exploitive.

Heavy (Premieres Jan. 17 at 10 p.m. on A&E): This program follows morbidly obese people who decide to do what it takes to lose weight.

Why social workers might like it: Social workers often help clients live healthier lifestyles. However, social workers have been concerned about weight loss reality shows because they focus more on getting people to lose weight instead of making long-term lifestyle changes and addressing personal issues that may contribute to weight gain (Click here to read “What’s Wrong With Weight Reality Shows”  on Social It will be interesting to see whether social workers think Heavy is an improvement on the weight reality show model or the same old, same old.

Beyond Scared Straight (Premieres Jan. 13 at 10 p.m. on A&E): When the documentary “Scared Straight” premiered in 1978 it made TV history and won an Emmy and Academy Award. The documentary followed a group of juvenile delinquents who visited a New Jersey prison to meet hardened criminals who used bullying and tough love tactics to show them where they could end up if they didn’t mend their ways. Since then “Scared Straight” programs have multiplied across the nation and have been adapted to strike a chord with savvier, more jaded 21st century youth. Each week A&E’s program follows participants in these programs.

Why social workers might like it: Social workers may have a lot in common with this show. They help prison inmates in jail and ex-cons readjust to life outside prison walls. Social workers also provide counseling and other services for youth. A big question will be whether social workers agree with the tactics used in Beyond Scared Straight.

Social workers, are there other new shows or returning programs you plan to watch? Let us know. Leave your comments below.

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  1. I will try to watch “Parenting”… I think that it deals with a lot of reality…tonight there was a discipline issue…teenage dating issues… and the drugs and sex parent to teenager talk.

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