Perception of Nation-Self in Television

I think it would be interesting to look at how TV influences how a nation presents itself. Quantico for instance presents the FBI as an industry that only accepts the best of the best of the best of the best. Continually culling from their supposedly elite recruits. Shows like CSI and other procedurals and police dramas like Castle and even Brooklyn-Nine Nine irrespective of genre portray the police as singlemindedly determined to find the truth. As a force that refuse to accept confessions if there isn’t evidence to back them up. Who will search for the truth inspite of all the evidence to the contrary if they find someone pleading their innocence. They will only accept a righteous confession as the final closing of the case.

They also rarely show people using lawyers. Laywers are seen as evil. Even seasoned spies when caught (Castle) confess to the police without a lawyer because the cops simply yell lies at them. Seating in interrogations is always across tables never invading someone’s personal space until "Bad Cop" shows up to get physical.

Shows like The Whisperers are strangely patriotic and frame every decision as if based on the principles of the founding fathers. The decision to intern children without telling anyone is based on how they will be perceived in history.

There are many other examples and types but I believe these create a sense of righteousness in how America perceives itself. Quantico tries to humanize their character by giving them all secret flaws and having them share them with other characters at seemingly random times while at the same time having the most complex exams on a nearly daily basis that sound like a logistical nightmare. And while it makes sense in Sleepy Hollow for the founding fathers to come up constantly. It’s odd that a show about aliens invading is so focused on the political theory rather than threat assessment. I think it does the accused a disservice in real life to never show people talking with their lawyers unless they’re rich and (likely) guilty. It creates a general perception that the police can question you and you are obligated to answer them without representation.

  • Good topic! I see this in Law & Order all.the.time, too. There is some analysis that could be done with Althusser and the ideological state apparatus. Although, if someone selects this topic, I would stick to one genre of shows to analyze simply because examining several different genres might make the parts of article disjointed from one another. – Caitlin Ray 9 years ago
  • I think it's important to look at multiple genres but I might stick to one facet of ideal perception and then look at it across the genres. For instance. You could look at legal representation and you can see it in dramas, mysteries, and comedies and see how they each do it similarly and how they do it differently. In TV defense attorneys are the devil to cops and attorneys are (usually) their buddies. I think it'd be important to highlight the importance of how defense attorney's work and are perceived in real life in comparison to how they are in TV. Or you could do a similar thing with interrogation, or evidence. – wolfkin 9 years ago
  • Ah yes, I agree with this-legal representation across genres would probably work as an analysis because it has a common thread of "legal representation." The author would still need to tread carefully to not take up too much material. I agree that defense attorneys are often considered the cops (and therefore "the truth's" enemy). However, "The people" or the state attorney, are often on the same side as the cops and seem to also be the mouthpiece for "truth." – Caitlin Ray 9 years ago

Want to write about TV or other art forms?

Create writer account