The Dark Dandy: Aesthetic Subversion in Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal

There is a certain satisfaction from seeing the good guy catch the bad guy. The tropes of genre allow one to anticipate a certain pattern and find joy when those anticipated elements come to pass (Smith, 2010). But what happens when this logic is subverted? In the current programming-dense “peak” of television, the avid postmodern viewer exhausts genre power, asking TV to be more, do more. In this way, not satisfying audience expectations actually produces more satisfaction. In Hannibal (2013-2015), a genre-defying television show developed and produced by Bryan Fuller, this is accomplished by complicating what is good and evil through careful aesthetic subversion that supports, in formal elements, a plot that with a consumerist morality deifies the bad guy, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen). In doing so, such a show Continue reading

Is Crazy Ex Out of Steam?

I started streaming Crazy Ex-Girlfriend ( a.k.a. CXGF) on Netflix on Saturday night. The “Sexy Getting Ready Song” was refreshingly accurate. I was hooked after that. However, by episode 15, my interest took a dive. I’m afraid that much like my beloved The Good Wife, CXGF might be trapped in its name. Could it have hit the repetition wall–the dreaded point where the premise dies and the show must end–in the middle of its first Continue reading

Boss is King: Meritocratic​ excuses of wage theft by above-the-line workers in semi-embedded deep texts

shervelAfter seeing a fan mash-up of Sherlock with House M.D. on YouTube, I was curious what CBS’s Elementary might offer as an updated, American version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories. I searched for an interview with one of Elementary’s female producers, and landed on Liz Friedman, a very accomplished television producer and writer who executive produced both Elementary and House M.D.  I was interested in this podcast interview with Friedman because female voices unmediated by men are not often heard, and this was an interview between two women in the industry. I wondered if Friedman’s minority status within the industry as a woman (a gay woman at that) would influence her representation of her work. The podcast was created and hosted by Jen Grisanti, a former TV executive who now seems to make her entire living off of paid seminars and speeches on “making-it” as an industry writer. By analyzing the subculture of “insider” discussion in Jen Grisanti’s podcast interview of Liz Friedman, I will explore how above-the-line work privileges the needs of the industry over individual laborers by using such deep texts as what Derek Johnson (2016) calls “regimes of truth,” enforcing the ideology of Hollywood meritocracy.  Continue reading

Convergence Breeds Convergence: Crossover in CBS’s Supergirl

Laura Prudom writing in Variety’s March 22, 2016 article, “Supergirl’ Meets ‘The Flash’: Stars Take Us Behind the Scenes on the Crossover (EXCLUSIVE)” reveals the economic convergence involved in such event programming. Henry Jenkins defines various forms of the post-network phenomena of convergence, the economic variety consisting of the ownership of different forms of media. Conglomeration has been ramping up for decades since the deregulation of Fin-Syn’s abolishment. The significance of conglomeration in the post-network age lies in the potential for what Jenkins terms “transmedia exploitation of branded properties.” When companies have ownership in multiple channels, they have greater incentive and ease in engaging in cross-promotion and synergy among those holdings. By exposing the economic convergence involved in the Supergirl/Flash crossover, I will show how convergence can breed convergence, allowing shows to benefit from post-network fragmentation.

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When Voicemails Are Love Letters: Hitting the Repetition Wall in CBS’s The Good Wife


the_good_wife-300x198Best known for its crime procedurals like NCIS and event reality shows like Survivor, CBS doubled-down on its cash cow shows years ago, as unabashed king of back-door pilots spinning off into series. While comedies and non-crime dramas exist and are even popular on the network, the majority of CBS shows are similar in their lean toward the episodic end of the cumulative TV spectrum. A few shows break this mold, Continue reading