A thousand TV shows : applying a rhizomatic lens to television genres
One frequent technique for studying television is through genre. However, with the complex television environment of the 21st century, many genre studies do not adequately account for how generic television programs intersect other generic traits. This study probes how genre works within complex television narratives and proposes a new way of thinking about genre. Through Deleuze and Guattari's (1987) theory of the rhizome, I will suggest an interconnected understanding of genre characteristics. The television landscape is a complex, dynamic structure; the assortment of programs and the traits of those programs differ greatly from one moment to the next. Therefore, this study will propose a meta-theory that enables studying this landscape. The theory of the generic rhizome challenges simplistic readings of television texts; opens texts up to endless possible interpretations and insights; and it flattens cultural hierarchies. In two studies, which look at sitcoms and Westerns, I tease out this theory and study television shows in a way that mines, rather than flattens, the complexity of the medium.
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