Category Archives: Television

Flow 2010 Conference Report

My Temple colleague Kelly Ryan and I contributed a conference report about our experiences at the 2010 Flow Conference for the online journal Scope.


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Filed under Academia, Television

Spider-Monster the Musical

I love Sesame Street‘s pop-cult parodies (“30 Rocks” is another favorite), and this one is especially great because it skewers the whole Spider-Man musical debacle. As one of my Twitter pals noted, the Muppet Bono is “signified by a smug face and sunglasses.” I just like that the poor diner who always has a fly in his soup is stuck watching his incompetent waiter unsuccessfully attempt to fly.

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Filed under Music, Television

The Real World As Reality Pioneer

The Boston Globe looks back at the Real World‘s influence on television on the eve of the premiere of the show’s 25th season. The article is as formulaic as the show itself has become; it hits all the right notes about hot tubs, young, inquisitive virgins corrupted by more worldly housemates and the city as cast member and traces the RW style to such unlikely shows as the mockumentary-style Modern Family and The Office.

The biggest gripe I end up having about these kinds of articles is that they argue that the Real World invented reality television. It didn’t. It refined it and made it palatable to a younger audience. The idea of “reality TV” before was more along the lines of Unsolved Mysteries, Cops and America’s Most Wanted. The Real World took the conceit of PBS’ An American Family and soaped it up further. PBS always insisted AAF was a documentary, but it was received as a soap. It also sparked an entire media conversation about family values, which I analyzed in my master’s thesis, comparing it to another influential MTV reality show, The Osbournes.

It’s good that Globe writer Matthew Gilbert acknowledged An American Family in his piece. It often is forgotten when people write about the history of reality TV, but with the upcoming HBO film about the making of the series, expect a ton of think-pieces in the next few months about the series’s influence. I just hope this means that it will be available on DVD or Netflix.

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Filed under Forced March, Television

The Forced March

I set up this site a while ago as a place to yammer about media, but it’s obvious that I’ve been letting it languish. My pal Beth decided to embark on a puntastic “Forced March” in which we and others agree to blog every day for the month of March (or Spring will never come).

I’m going to try, but this is going to be tough since I’m in the thick of dissertating, with drafts of two chapters due this month. But expect some ranting about the media exploitation/fascination with Charlie Sheen, the Red Sox’s (or is it Red Sox’ — I’m struggling with this stylistic issue and have consulted my copy-editing expert pals, but more feedback truly is appreciated) spring training season, whatever issue I have with NY1 at the moment and other media-related content.

Despite my immersion in the theoretical worlds of myth, ritual, social memory and baseball coverage, I’m still watching a lot of television and listening to a ton of NPR. (Fun fact: my cats love Fresh Air, and we leave NPR on for them when we’re going to be out of the house for a significant amount of time. Yes, I’m That Guy.)

There’s a whole post in me about Andre Dubus III’s new memoir Townie. Consider that a tease for later today (ambitious!) or tomorrow.

Let’s do this.


Filed under Forced March, Housekeeping, Red Sox Nation, Television

“Huge” Disappointment

I’m sad to hear that ABC Family has canceled Huge. I found some parts to be eyeroll-worthy (the Amber character’s breathiness, for one), but it was a pretty faithful depiction of adolescence. Teenagers are somewhat annoying and melodramatic, and Huge wasn’t afraid to showcase that.

The most interesting character for me, however, was Alistair. I would have liked to see how the writers would have developed his gender identity as the series continued.

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Filed under Television