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Amos ‘n’ Andy: African-American Stereotypes and the Impact of the NAACP on Television

"Amos ‘n’ Andy," began as a radio show in 1928. The show was set in Harlem, a section in New York City predominately African-American. The radio show was a spin-off from a minstrel act that involved two white actors in black face. Protests by African-American organizations against the show began in 1931. These protests were unsuccessful, and the show eventually became a television show beginning in 1951 (CBS) with the lead characters being black actors not white in black face. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) began protesting the show and wanted it removed almost from when it first appeared on television. One of the main characters (the Kingfish) was portrayed as a con man, another was presented as a dim-witted cab driver. The language spoken by the characters was a gutter form of English meant to convey a stereotype of all African-Americans. CBS cancelled the show in 1953, but it lived on in syndication until 1966. There were episodes of the show produced that were not shown at the time CBS cancelled the show and those episodes lived on. American television was slow to eventually remove the show, in contrast with CBS sending reruns of the show to Kenya in 1963 where it was banned almost immediately.
Someone agreeing to write on his topic can address several issues: 1) How was the show received by both white and black audiences when it first appeared on television, and; 2) the protests to remove first the radio show then the television show can focus on how effective or ineffective these protests were and what they say about African-American influence, and the NAACP in particular, on radio and television content regarding portrayals of black America.

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    Job Precariousness in Sitcoms

    In many sitcoms, characters often suffer the consequences of job precariousness. This includes being underpaid, taking jobs they hate, or losing their jobs altogether.
    Almost the entire cast of Friends, Jess from New Girl, Britta or Jeff from Community, or the Roses from Schitt’s Creek are just some examples.

    An article looking at how these scenarios play out in T.V. could be an insightful read. Are they accurate depictions of real life, or do they diminish the real-world anxiety of this aspect of life? Is it enough to simply allude to homelessness or not being able to make rent, or should a show force its characters to endure this? You could offer a comparison of shows that do this well and shows that, perhaps, do not do this so well.

    You could offer an assessment regarding the impact this has on viewers, and contextualise the shows within both their setting and time of release.

    • It would be worth expanding this topic to examine and analyse similar scenarios in sitcoms from around the world. In this way, a comparison could be made between varying cultural values and institutional attitudes towards low paid workers. – Amyus 2 months ago
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    • I think contextualizing the shows based on time of release is a good idea. Specifically, comparing the perception of unemployment in shows through every decade or during periods of financial downturn could be particularly interesting. – huiwong 2 months ago
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    Characters who fall in love with versions of themselves

    In some stories, the main character’s love interest seems designed to be an almost perfect mirror image of themselves. These characters’ lovers share their same personalities, tastes, and motivations, and might even look something like them. "The Umbrella Academy" is one notable show that does this. So far both seasons feature a central character falling in love with someone who is almost exactly like themselves (Vanya in Season 1 and Diego in Season 2). What are some other examples of this trope? How popular is this phenomenon in fiction and what factors contribute to it?

    • See the story of Narcissus (Ancient Greek figure who falls in love with her own reflection). – J.D. Jankowski 2 months ago
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    • There is also a hilarious 30 Rock episode about this concept. They discussed the concept of dating yourself is a "double edged sword" where as your weaknesses as a person are the weaknesses of your partner. 30 Rock: Season 5, Episode 14 – Sean Gadus 2 months ago
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    • To add to Sean's point, there's an episode of Seinfeld where Jerry starts dating the "woman version" of himself. He initially finds this attractive until he remembers he "hates himself." – aprosaicpintofpisces 2 months ago
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    3

    Mrs. America: Feminism Means What

    Mrs. America (9 episodes on Hulu) has been praised for both the quality of the acting as well as the storyline. The series has addressed what can be described as focused on two different women’s movements: The movement that pushed for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and the movement that fought against it, led by Phyllis Schlafly and which centered on what can be seen as a culture war.
    Gloria Steinem was overly critical of the series, seeing it as too focused on Schlafly and not centered on what she saw as the real opposition to the ERA which was the insurance industry as well as other economics organizations.
    A writer deciding to address this topic should: 1) focus on the these two different women’s movements and how they interact as well as clash; 2) address where Schlafly should actually be placed in ranking her as a factor in contributing to preventing the passage of the ERA, and; 3) What does this series say about how we should look at what these opposing women’s movements have meant to contemporary America and to women specifically.

    • I think there's real value here in illustrating the ways in which the discussion surrounding feminism pits women against each other, by dividing them into "good" feminists and "bad" anti-feminists (or the other way around). It always struck me as a breeding ground for attacks on women, and that would be extremely dangerous. – Debs 2 months ago
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    • After seeing the Mrs. America series, and Gloria Steinem's autobiography turned into a movie (with Julianne Moore), I think one aspect of such an essay can be highlighting Steinem and Schlafly, two media personalities but quite different from each other with different goals in mind. Odd to consider that what began as what might be seen as a feminism movement (if that term is correct) with certain goals, should see a counter-movement arise. Is it possible to bridge the two in some way? Are there issues that they may have in common? Mrs. America did not present Schlafly in anything but a manipulative way, but it also seemed to present the supporters of ERA as ignoring the forces behind Schlafly, which, I think, was a wrong thing to do. In the series there is a moment where a friend and supporter of Schlafly's (Sarah Paulson) raises the issue of finding something in common and then it is just gone. – Joseph Cernik 2 months ago
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    Ratched

    Ratched is a recent popular Netflix original series which is an adaptation based solely on the characterisation of the antagonist within Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel, "One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest". The questions that I pose is:

    1.How does screen adaptation archive success when not closely following the source material?

    2.An in-depth analysis of the mise-en-scene.

    3.What does this series say about the representation of women having power?

    (You can write about all, or focus on a section)

    • You have in essence a fan fiction. One way to address this is look at past equivalent success. See The Æneid. – J.D. Jankowski 2 months ago
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    • I think this topic can be incredibly interesting, and I actually like it! – RheaRG 2 months ago
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    The Crown and The Future King of the United Kingdom

    The Crown (Netflix) is in its fourth season. With the fourth season, more modern era events are addressed. The courtship between Charles and Diana (what there is of it) is addressed, as well as his inability to move on from Camilla (who now is his wife). At some point Charles will become the King of the United Kingdom, unless he decides to pass on it and, his son, William takes the crown. British tabloids have questioned whether Charles will, in fact, become King. How will the Netflix series play into the public perception of Charles? A poll that was conducted in 2018, said that only 36 percent of the British thought Charles was a positive force to benefit the monarchy. In 2014, a similar poll was conducted, and, at that time, 60 percent saw Charles as a positive force. Charles and Camilla married in 2005 so the 2014 poll was several years after they were married. The fourth season of The Crown does not make Charles look like anything but a person with emotional issues—not mental problems, just removed from showing a caring and emotional side. But, for the matter, each of the four children of Queen Elizabeth II do not come across well in the fourth season. Someone who decides to write on this topic should address how the British public comes to understand the monarchy through this series and whether the series can have some impact on how real-life figures are seen and judged. It may be too much to expect that the series can play into any decision regarding Charles or William becoming King, but a writer can speculate.

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    Star Trek's Interconnected History

    For someone choosing to write an essay on this topic, the issue of interconnected history, binding the seven Star Trek TV shows (the Original, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, Discovery, Picard) together, presents an interesting way of discussing a narrative that connects the shows and keeps interest in previous Star Trek series alive.
    For example, in the Original, “The Menagerie” episodes (parts 1 and 2 in Season 1) former Enterprise Captain Christopher Pike (Jeffrey Hunter) is brought to Talos IV where he will be re-united with Vina (Susan Oliver). In Discovery, the “If Memory Serves” episode (Season 2), Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) visits Talos IV and meets Vina (Melissa George). Furthermore, in Picard (Season 1) in the “The End is the Beginning” episode, Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), when visiting a Borg ship that was disconnected from the hive, is referred to as Locutus. In The Next Generation (Season 3) in the “The Best of Both Worlds” episode (Part 1) Picard is transformed into Locutus.
    Star Trek’s interconnected history presents a fascinating way of writing about the depth of created history that now runs back through five decades of a television series. As a result of a half century of television shows, there are storylines from the Star Trek series that are known to several generations of TV viewers. That much TV history has made so much of Star Trek part of American Culture.

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      What We Can Learn from Time Travel Shows

      While time travel works are entertaining and interesting, one would still wonder what the audience can learn from these kinds of shows. The idea of going back in time or travelling to the future is appealing to humans because they know they can control time with this power, i.e. the forced events brought upon by the universe. Yet, we know that time travel is practically impossible and even if it were, it would be extremely dangerous as it messes with the forces of nature. Thus, what is the purpose of creating stories that portray the possibility of such a phenomenon? works including "The Time Machine," "Doctor Who," "Back to the Future," "Steins;Gate," "Life Is Strange," etc. can be mentioned to illustrate with examples.