Latest Blog Posts

by Lana Cooper

22 Jul 2010

When I was a kid, I remember my mother and father talking about the then-new concept of reality television. Shows like MTV’s The Real World had spearheaded the movement with competition reality shows such as Survivor soon followed suit. Following the writers’ strike of 2000, reality television soon permeated the airways in an effort to bolster networks’ television schedules affected by a lack of show scribes, reality television received a surge in popularity that stuck well beyond the strike.

One of the most frequent points that cropped up in my parents’ conversation regarding reality television was one or the other griping: “It’s only a matter of time before they show somebody die on television.”

As it turns out, my folks were right. It happened. Death was televised and broadcast to the masses—this time in entertainment form, rather than via newscast.

by Andy Johnson

19 Jul 2010

Without doubt, Luther has been one of the cornerstones of the British television schedule this year so far. Its six episodes broadcast across May and June, the BBC’s latest police drama starred Idris Elba as its gruff and conflicted titular hero and commanded a significant, if somewhat inconsistent, share of the ratings. Already released on DVD, the series has also been penned into BBC America’s schedules for later this year. Broadly well-received critically in the UK and arguably already possessing a cult fan following, it’s interesting to speculate about how Luther might be welcomed in the United States.

by Elizabeth Wiggins

8 Jul 2010

According to its slogan, TNT knows drama, and in the summer it does viewers a tremendous favor by producing new, original one-hour dramas. TNT’s dramas tend to cover known ground: crime procedurals, medical dramas, and tales of redemption. As an added bonus, these shows star relatively famous people – Kyra Sedgwick, Holly Hunter, Jada Pinkett Smith, Timothy Hutton – as captivating, specially skilled protagonists. Production values are relatively high, the acting is OK, and the stories are average, if generally unremarkable.

The newest addition to this family of dramas is Memphis Beat, a crime procedural that co-stars Jason Lee and the city of Memphis.Results, as they say, are varied.

There is potential here. While it’s certainly odd for anyone raised on Kevin Smith movies or My Name is Earl fans to see Jason Lee play a cop, he really is trying to bring Detective Dwight Hendricks to life. The problem is, neither Lee nor the audience seem to know who Hendricks is. Nor does anyone really seem to know what this show is or what it wants to be. This problem, which runs throughout Memphis Beat and works its way down into its core, is the key factor holding the show back from being good. When viewers don’t know why they should care, they generally don’t.

by Beth Greaves

6 Jul 2010

Family Guy is not what you think. That is, it isn’t if you think what I thought at first: a crude, tactless and brutal cartoon made solely to satisfy a primal juvenile need to laugh at the offensive. No. That is not Family Guy. Is Family Guy crude, tactless, brutal, offensive and juvenile? Often, yes. However, there is something much deeper going on.

To bristle at the ugly stereotypes perpetuated by this cartoon is natural. I cringe at their sly Jews, their effeminate homosexuals and every other offensive stererotype the show parades in front of us. Yet it’s not done in this manner out of racist or homophobic spite. It’s not a marketing tool to brainwash the public with xenophobia.

by Elizabeth Wiggins

21 Jun 2010

A tense moment in The Real Housewives of New Jersey

Growing up in New Jersey, jammed all the way out on the East Coast and in between a bunch of people, it’s hard to imagine what life is like in the rest of America. In school, the memorization of the capitals of other states mostly seems like an act of politeness. Sure, the capital of Wyoming is Cheyenne, but it’s not like that knowledge is being stored for an actual trip there. This dynamic of awareness of other place ‘out there’ and standoffishness (who cares?) works in both directions; while New Jerseyans have trouble imagining life elsewhere, the population west of the Delaware River has some ideas about how things go in New Jersey that relate to big hair and strong accents. Until recently, this was all residents of New Jersey had to worry about when defending themselves throughout the United States and abroad. However, the recent focus on New Jersey as a site to mine for reality television gold raises some questions about the tension between celebrating a local identity and engaging in troubling self-parody.

//Mixed media

Because Blood Is Drama: Considering Carnage in Video Games and Other Media

// Moving Pixels

"It's easy to dismiss blood and violence as salacious without considering why it is there, what its context is, and what it might communicate.

READ the article