Archive for publications, October 2018

[Previous message][Next message][Back to index]

[ecrea] Journal of Popular Television 6.3 published

Tue Oct 02 18:31:05 GMT 2018

Intellect is pleased to announce that the Journal of Popular
Television 6.3 is now available! For more information about the
journal, click here >>


Mental illness media and the paradox of ‘productivity’ in Elementary
and Limitless

Authors: Sean Brayton
Page Start: 283

This article examines representations of mental illness in North
American network television. It is particularly drawn to the CBS
police procedurals Elementary (2012–present) and Limitless (2015) as
distinct but overlapping stories of mental illness, addiction and
intellectual labour. Though depression, drug addiction and anxiety
disorders are treated differently in each series, Elementary and
Limitless offer complementary narratives of occupational therapy that
equate work with mental well-being. While they seem to present a
positive image of mentally ill characters with meaningful jobs,
Elementary and Limitless measure mental fitness by one’s capacity to
work in the same industries often linked to mental illnesses in the
first place, resulting in a paradox of productivity. Here the
television programmes, much like occupational therapy, tend to
overlook critical questions about the socio-economic underpinnings of
psychological disorders and encourage viewers to understand the links
between mental illness and work in rather myopic ways.

Transgression – identification – interaction: Blu-ray bonus features
and Supernatural’s cult status

Authors: Michael Fuchs
Page Start: 303

Being ‘cultish’ is not a feature which is inherent in a given media
text. Rather, this quality is attributed to the text in question over
time, usually due to the development of a passionate fan community
around it. Nevertheless, media producers are well aware of means which
help increase – or in some cases even produce – the cult status of
their products. This article dissects the role the bonus features
included in Supernatural’s Blu-ray releases play in the cultification
of the series. As this article demonstrates these special features
primarily function as a means of tightening the bond between the fan
community and the show’s creative team.

The road to Negan: Governance and power in The Walking Dead

Authors: Andrew Howe And Sean Evans
Page Start: 323

In Robert Kirkman’s graphic novel The Walking Dead (2003–present), a
zombie apocalypse serves as the backdrop against which the survivors
make the practical and moral decisions that will determine their fate.
The struggle is less about combating the undead than maintaining a
civilized, moral imperative and reformulating a micro-society from the
ashes of previous civilization. Leadership and decisionmaking become
critical in situations where the wrong choice can result in
destruction. The television adaptation offers a rare glimpse into a
world where some of the fundamental features of civilization –
government, kinship, culture – are simultaneously and completely
enveloped in chaos. In the midst of a complete breakdown of structure,
power vacuums occur and are inevitably filled, most notably in the
early parts of the series by Rick Grimes and Shane Walsh, friends and
former law enforcement officers who model very different visions of
power and governance. This article explores power structures and
hierarchy in The Walking Dead from two disciplinary perspectives –
historical/cultural and psychological – and focuses upon the clash of
competing hierarchal structures and leadership styles that develop as
the survivors band together and begin to seek out islands of safety
from zombies and other humans alike. The zombie apocalypse is thus a
backdrop against which to project the real story: the power dynamics
within a micro-society undergoing tremendous stress, and what these
dynamics indicate about the conflicted nature of power and identity.

 From ambivalence to acceptance: Representations of trans embodiment on
American television

Authors: Marc Lafrance And Jay Manicom And Geoff Bardwell
Page Start: 339

Boasting some of the highest ratings in American cable television
history, FX’s six-season dramatic series Nip/Tuck (2003–10) features
more trans characters than any other show of its kind. Focusing on its
regularly recurring trans woman character, Ava Moore, we argue that
Nip/Tuck’s representations of trans embodiment are complex,
contradictory and, above all, ambivalent. More specifically, we claim
that the show portrays medically-assisted transition not only as a
large-scale crisis in the order of things but also as a path to
personal prosperity and success. In doing so, we demonstrate that the
former is articulated through themes of incest, infertility,
fraudulence and monstrosity while the latter is articulated through
themes of beauty, intelligence, resilience and social mobility. Having
presented our analysis of how Nip/Tuck represents sex reassignment and
those who undergo it, we then turn to a critical consideration of how
a more recent dramatic series, Orange is the New Black (2013–present),
portrays the trans trajectory. Widely understood to represent a kind
of ‘transgender tipping point’, Orange is the New Black can be seen as
a useful index of how trans people are portrayed in present-day
televisual culture. Through our consideration of these portrayals, we
think critically about whether popular media representations of sex
reassignment have changed since Nip/Tuck and, if so, in what ways.

 From ‘pop’ nostalgia to millennial modernity: Bugs as an ‘Avengers for
the 1990s’

Authors: Joseph Oldham
Page Start: 361

This article examines the 1990s adventure series Bugs (1995–99),
whilst also exploring broader transformations in British television
thrillers and nostalgic programming. First, I position the series’
origin as a response to the popularity of 1960s adventure series
repeats on the BBC in the 1990s. I argue, that the nostalgic impulse
of Bugs itself did not manifest in visual terms, as in more
conventional 1960s pastiches, but was instead at a narrative level.
The series dispensed with contemporaneous trends towards more
psychologised characters and serialised narratives in favour of a
self-consciously ‘retro’ rejection of ‘depth’. Yet I also explore
other ways in which it adapted the adventure series for the 1990s.
These included reworking the spy agency as a small business enterprise
for the ‘dotcom’ age, reinventing alienating surveillance technology
as the user-friendly gadget, glamorizing neo-liberalism through
exoticizing London’s redeveloped Docklands, and presenting terrorism
as a leading existential threat for the post-Cold War era. I argue
that whilst Bugs represented a dead end for an ‘innocent’ model of
nostalgic drama, through many of the latter characteristics it stands
as an unacknowledged influence on a later generation of stylish,
issue-led ‘War on Terror’ thriller series.

In flag-rante: Julia Gillard and the infamous ‘flag scene’ in ABC’s At
Home with Julia

Authors: Ana Stevenson
Page Start: 381

In 2011, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation financed and produced
a controversial sitcom based on the life, characteristics, and
politics of incumbent Prime Minister Julia Gillard. At Home with Julia
(2011) examined Gillard’s private life by fictionalizing her de facto
relationship with partner Tim Mathieson. Before, during, and after it
aired, the series became a media spectacle as print, digital and
broadcast journalists debated the propriety of the parody/satire.
Media hype peaked in response to a fleeting scene in which the main
characters appear cuddling under the Australian flag. Drawing on
scholarship about postfeminism, this article examines the
representation of single/unmarried women in popular culture and the
characterization of political women in television dramas. The media
commentary surrounding At Home with Julia denounced the ‘flag scene’
in the strongest terms, yet this reportage also conveyed an underlying
unease towards the series’ candid depiction of sexuality. Most
significantly, journalists collectively failed to adequately
distinguish between Gillard, the prime minister, and ‘Julia’, the
fictional character. Such a failure, this article suggests, enabled
and excused the media’s subsequent and far more visceral sexualization
of Australia’s first female prime minister. Although the public
clearly understood the fictional premise of At Home with Julia, the
Australian media fabricated a ‘sex’ scandal that came to be read onto
the body of Gillard herself.

Conference Report

Authors: Caitlin Shaw
Page Start: 405

At Home with Horror? Terror on the Small Screen, University of Kent,
27–29 October 2017
This mailing list is a free service offered by Nico Carpentier. Please
use it responsibly and wisely.
To subscribe or unsubscribe, please visit
Before sending a posting request, please always read the guidelines at
To contact the mailing list manager:
Email: (nico.carpentier /at/

[Previous message][Next message][Back to index]