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Character redemption: earned or a retcon of past events

The transition of villian or semi-villianous characters in tv shows throughout a show’s run is a popular move within the recent years due to the rise of the anti-heroes.
Consider examples of when this has worked verus when the change simply felt out of character. How far is too far? Have there been any instances where the characters committed acts which were retconned to ensure their new status would be accepted by audiences?

  • I feel as though nearly every villain in modern shows today is at least somewhat glamourised by the fans, regardless of their moral viewpoint. Even villains such as Moriarty in BBC's Sherlock, a psychopathic killer who has no morality, and in fact has destroyed the lives of the protagonists more than once, is often loved and fantasised about. – SophIsticated 3 weeks ago
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  • Redeemed villains and anti-heroes seem to me separate things entirely, things that cannot really be compared in the same breath. There's never really a time when Walter White comes across as a redeemed villain. He, and Light Yagami from Deathnote, are anti-heroes with varying degrees of morality. Jamie Lannister is probably the pinnacle redeemed villain contemporarily, as a truly despised character in the beginning through to being many people's favourite good guy currently. Just my two cents here. – Entropy 3 weeks ago
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  • This made me think of literature's first anti-heroes -- Milton's Satan in Paradise Lost -- perhaps this topic can center more on an audience's fascination with villains and anti-heroes in general? – Jeffrey Cook 2 weeks ago
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Symbolism in television Programs such as True Blood

True Blood is a television show that uses mythical characters as symbols for both past and present events. One of these that stands out to me is when the Vampires are given the right to marry, this would be a symbol of Homosexuals being given the right to marry one another. Another one is that the Vampire’s curfew has been lifted and in many countries (such as Australia) the indigenous had to fight to get the same curfew as everyone else. In one episode you see a burning cross and the in the opening credits you see a boy with what looks like a KKK costume on which as both strong representation of the KKK.The thing that has made people tune into the show week after week is the mythical creatures and the story lines that are being used to demonstrate these symbols.

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    The Alternative Reality of Reality TV

    In 1968 Andry Warhol wrote that "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes". His prediction has come true with the popularity of so-called reality TV. But how real is reality TV? Can anything with a camera pointed towards it still be called real, or is it an alternative reality?

    • This sounds like a great topic considering people like the kardashians are becoming famous these days. – theOne234 3 weeks ago
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    • Great question! Reality TV is highly edited in order to produce a story line. For example, Master Chef and My Kitchen Rules are both reality shows about cooking, based on the concept of competition between non-professional cooks. But the story line of MC is one of growth, collaboration, support, self determination and success of the individual etc all the stuff we yearn for; MKR is based on conflicts, back stabbing, drama, failure etc all the stuff we despair. They are both high ratings because they tap into the everyday elements of our lives. While that is usually the core of why these shows are entertaining which the producers clearly leverage, we ought to examine how the audience is socialised in their consumption of these shows, and how producers inadvertently or perhaps purposely produce narratives that bind the audience with the reality actors through their edits - examination of the sociology of reality TV shows. – lienpham 3 weeks ago
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    • These is quite a broad topic, you could try breaking it down and focusing more so on a specific genre of reality TV. – ninaphillips27 2 weeks ago
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    • Pick one type of competition show, or dating show, or "documentary" live-in show. Try to find what the directors sell you. Compare things like Hell's Kitchen to The Great Britih Bakeoff, America's Next Top Model to Face-Off, Naked and Afraid to America Ninja Warrior, and so on. – IndiLeigh 2 weeks ago
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    Blurred Lines: The Surge in Branded Content and Advertainment

    Examine the incorporation of branded marketing in the history of film and TV, and how the normalization of sponsored content has allowed for successful films like The Lego Movie to branded documentary series like Margot vs. Lily by NikeWomen. Is it changing the world of advertising or is it changing the world of entertainment?

      Taken by Peter Prevos (PM) 3 weeks ago.
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      What happens when our favorite shows come back?

      Nostalgia is every where as many shows which had been cancelled or ended long ago are returning. X-Files and Gilmore Girls came back, Young Justice finally got its long awaited season three, and Charmed is getting a reboot. How does this affect how we watch the new season out reboot? How does this affect our perceptions of the old show? Does waiting so long end up paying off?

      • Great topic! From the moment PrisonBreak ended I have been waiting for it to come back. – Munjeera 4 months ago
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      • You might also delve into, which shows get a comeback, why, and who should get to decide. Are there shows that haven't received a comeback, but should? What makes a show popular enough to warrant one? – Stephanie M. 4 months ago
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      • I think that sometimes shows shouldn't come back because they are rarely as good as the original and sometimes try too hard. I would love friends to come back, but i know that i'll only be disappointed because it can never recreate the magic of the past. Maybe try and identify where comeback shows go wrong and some examples of this. – Emefa1 3 months ago
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      • Awesome article topic! – SeanGadus 4 weeks ago
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      • This could be a super interesting topic. Another thing to think about is the effect it can have on a new audience who didn't grow up with the original shows, and whether they should update it to fit the times or keep it as it was? Or perhaps what to update and what not to? This definitely raises a lot of questions, I like it! – Sarah A. 4 weeks ago
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      • Would be very interested to hear the perspective on the idea that Prison Break will be returning - is it legitimate for shows to return and pretend that the seemingly final last episode was never meant to be final? Is it okay for us to accept this re-writing of the planned narrative after the fact? – jessfaith0912 4 weeks ago
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      • Great topic. It's such a grey area with a lot to explore, you have those who are all about the reboots (I am a sucker for nostalgia) and those who are against them. Plus, reboots tend to get a whole lot of criticism, mainly because people have so many expectations. – MikaylaMargaret 2 weeks ago
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      Taken by JulieCMillay (PM) 3 weeks ago.
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      Existentialism and Moral Relativity as an Artistic Crutch

      Judging by volume, it seems easier to write morally ambiguous screenplays. Such screenplays also seem to benefit from the default of events being meaningless or random in a meaningless or random existence (e.g., Tony Soprano’s series-ending "dirt nap"), while works regarding morality as objective, ala Breaking Bad, must convincingly explain actions and repercussions without the easy shrug of "stuff happens." If we set the Way Way Back Machine to say, a century ago, the bar of acceptance for atheistic works was high, but today, its bar for justification seems awfully low. Whaddya think about that, my friend?

      • I approve. Ambiguousness can be done well, but I have seen few authors and especially screenwriters pull it off. Moral relativity gives the appearance of freedom, but I think artistically, it actually boxes people in because they have to be careful not to make definitive statements about what's right and wrong, or why they think so. I'm not saying everything has to be squeaky clean--Lord knows that would be boring--but I'd definitely like to see less relativism.I think sometimes filmmakers, screenwriters, what have you, get caught in the trap of relativism vs. a *specific worldview*. That is, some people feel if a work does not appear to support a certain worldview, it has to be completely relative or it doesn't work. Judeo-Christian works, especially films, are particularly guilty. A happy medium is desperately needed. – Stephanie M. 4 months ago
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      • I think the impact of 9-11 is acutely felt here. Up until that point, people were happy to be moral relativists but once those planes hit those towers the world turned around and said 'this is definitively evil'. So we live in a world where there are both unknowns and knowns. – jackanapes 4 weeks ago
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      • jackanapes, no atheists in foxholes? – Tigey 4 weeks ago
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      Being Above the Law in "How to Get Away With Murder"

      Analyze the issue of the show’s main characters being involved in law yet acting above it (i.e. through murders, blackmailing, theft). What are the implications of this hypocrisy and how can this form a commentary on modern society or human nature? How is the show so appealing despite the characters going against simple black-and-white laws most people have been raised to instinctively follow? How can we condemn real-life criminals, yet root for these fictional ones as they do the exact same thing? Do the characters’ backstories inform and alter our perspective of them, humanizing them so it becomes more difficult to see them as villains?

      • This is a brilliant idea, particularly in the case of Annalise. – Sonia Charlotta Reini 6 months ago
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      • I recently watched the first two seasons again after that nail-biting cliffhanger in the middle of season three. This time around I was quite impressed how the characters really struggle with what they have done. Everything is internalized and they are not as heartless as they pretend to be. They each have unique reactions and coping mechanisms, and as you pointed out, they are indeed humanized because we can clearly see that they all have a strong moral compass. I really like this idea! – AlexanderLee 6 months ago
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      • I think this is a great topic but it definately can be broadened into the appeal of anti-heroes in general and also the nature of empathy. Whether its Annalise, Dexter, or Batman- we're actively rooting for the people who are taking the law into their own hands because we've been convinced these are criminals/conspiracies the justice system simply cannot handle or wouldn't understand. We forgave the Keating five for Sam's death because he was shown to be a terrible guy responsible for the murder of a missing college student. In the same vein, Dexter was a sociopathic serial killer but because he lived by a code the audience could still be convinced to root for him. We lived in his head and understood his motivations. But if it was an episode of Criminal Minds we'd 100% be rooting for them to catch him. The characters who are humanized and relatable are easy to make excuses for. – LC Morisset 4 months ago
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      • I think the reason we tend to support otherwise morally corrupt characters is because, through seeing their backstory and, in the case of Annalise, compromising relationship with her husband, they seem more human and relatable. Another excellent example of this would be those who supported Walter Whites actions in Breaking bad, Walter was arguably one of the most morally questionable characters we've had to date blowing up nursing homes, dissolving bodies in hydrofluoric acid but when we see his motives, he is instantly humanised. We see that he, just like us is doing what he is doing for his family and this is thereby adequate justification. Its quite intriguing how we, as an audience are more inclined to support and understand a characters actions when we see just what drives them to do what they do. – AdilYoosuf 4 weeks ago
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      Policing the War on Drugs in 'The Wire' and 'Breaking Bad': A Comparison

      Analyse the way David Simon’s ‘The Wire’ (2002) and Vince Gilligan’s ‘Breaking Bad’ (2008) portray the War on Drugs and the efficacy of policing. Would be interesting to compare representations of surveillance, public policy and drug communities (i.e. how the centrality of drug trading affects social, economic and cultural structures in Wallis’s neighbourhood in ‘The Wire’ v. Jesse’s town in ‘Breaking Bad’). Might also be useful to look specifically at the first seasons and compare the way policing is represented as a response to political zeitgeists in each show and how methodologies have changed. For example, ‘The Wire’ came straight off the back of 9/11 which is cited heavily in the first season as the reason behind the lack of police resources and subsequent thriving of illegal drug pedalling.

      • I like this topic a lot and I think that that shows you have chosen are perfect examples. My only critique would be the scope of the media one would have to analyze - both "Wire" and "BB" are very long series - a writer would have to know the ins and outs of 7+ seasons of material to be comprehensive. This is also difficult because, within those seven seasons, the thesis could easily change back and forth several times.I think taking "Season 1" of each show might be a more attainable goal. – AndyJanz 1 month ago
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      • I also like this topic a lot and think you have chosen a couple of really rich texts with so much to delve into. I think there is also a comparison to be made in the major kingpins of the respective shows Avon Barksdale & Gus Fring, as they have some similar characteristics in their businesses. Also intrigued by the idea of comparing Baltimore's drug culture to that in New Mexico. – billd 4 weeks ago
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