It’s kind of amazing how TV has tons of teams for just about every genre and occasion imaginable. There are sci-fi crews traveling through space finding trouble or getting found by it, like in Star Trek or Firefly. Mystery shows like CSI and Sherlock have groups working together to solve the unsolvable. Shows like Justice League and Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes feature the bread and butter of comic books, superhero teams (which, I guess, is technically part of the sci-fi domain but have more than enough shows dedicated to it to warrant its own genre). If you’re in the mood for something more dysfunctional, there are always shows about rag-tag teams of misfits and/or ex-cons that somehow pull off capers and cons together for justice, like in The A-Team or Leverage. Shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender, Codename: Kids Next Door, and Power Rangers all feature the ever-popular “adolescents with attitude” teams, proving that even kids can work together to fight crime and stop bad guys, usually with the help of an animal sidekick or two.
Stronger than a solo act, a team of characters adds a lot of vibrancy to a story by putting together characters who both compliment and counteract each other, thereby creating new dynamics. It’s a treat to see beloved characters work together and rely on each other to defeat threats they never could alone, especially since it proves the merits of thinking beyond one’s self.
Watching teams in action reminds us that we’re not alone, that each one of us is capable of getting along with people, connecting with each other, working together, and succeeding collectively. Sure, there are often times when it feels easier to face our problems on our own. You’d rather move at your own pace than someone else’s. You might hate the idea of relying on someone else to help clean your own messes, which you’d rather no one ever see. It’s easier to explain your thoughts and actions to yourself rather than try and communicate on someone else’s level. Sometimes other people confuse and frustrate you, causing problems you’d never have to deal with if you were alone. Dealing with people can be tricky, but successful teams show us that one of the best things we can do with our lives is let people into them, relying on others and letting others rely on you. By putting differences aside, uniting over a common goal, and just doing life together, we can accomplish so much. Of course, not every problem requires a team to solve them, but life certainly feels a lot easier when you know there’s someone who’s got your back, ready to jump in with an assist whenever things get rough. If Phil Coulson has S.H.I.E.L.D., Leonardo has his mutant brothers, and Batman has Robin, then it’s not strange for us to have someone.
With teams, everyone has a role to play. The Leader, the bruiser, the brains, the pilot, etc.; every member has a job that ensures the team can operate, and they’re given that job cause they’re good at it. Teams see the value and talents within every member and capitalize on them, as well as drawing out the latent potential within them by putting them in a supportive environment. In Avatar: TLA, Toph, the talented blind Earthbender, is the powerhouse team Avatar relies on when things get rough, chucking boulders at baddies like nobody’s business, but it’s only though her journey with team Avatar that Toph grows even more powerful as an Earthbender, gaining the abilities to Sandbend and Metalbend.
Teams also resonate with that natural part of us that desires to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. By working with others to achieve goals we could never complete on our own, we create legacies that last well after we’re gone, affecting those that come after us. Those who put themselves aside for their teams are ones able to see the big picture, all of the good that can be done and the potential futures created by it, and revolve their actions around it. At the end of X-Men: Evolution, Professor Xavier receives a vision of what’s in store for the X-men, their changes, tribulations, and triumphs, and the fact that the X-men will live on without him gives him pride as well as hope, vindication for all he’s done with them. This way of thinking will always provide a sense of accomplishment while part of a team.
So yeah, teams are awesome. They draw out talents, show us how to be productive together, and prove that everyone has something to contribute. Seeing them on television all the time just makes me all the more willing to work on a team myself. Thanks, TV, for always showing that life is a team effort.