We see their struggles. We watch them strive to be good, to overcome their flaws. This is a privilege we do not have with our acquaintances.
Characters on television can restore our hope for humanity…but the specimens we see on TV are special. They are more interesting than most of us, better looking than most of us, more articulate than most of us. Their lives arc, while ours putter. They are streamlined, energized, entitled. We want to be them.