Between politics and soap
The articulation of ideology andmelodrama in Czechoslovak communist television serials, 1975–89
in Popular television in authoritarian Europe
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Using the 1976 serial Muž na radnici (Man at City Hall) as a case study, this chapter investigates the Czechoslovak ‘seriál’ as emblematic of the ‘normalisation’ era of Czechoslovak television. The authors argue that the Czechoslovak ‘seriál’ combines two types of storyline – ideological and melodramatic – with the former dominant but reliant on the latter to legitimise it. They trace the sophisticated relationship between ideological and melodramatic storylines in Man at City Hall and argue that the popular acceptance of the serial arose largely from viewers’ ability to identify with the emotional elements within the melodramatic line. However, the ideological content of the serial, which supported the aims of the Czechoslovak communist party, was necessary for its production to be approved. Finally, the authors argue that the co-presence of ideological and melodramatic storylines is a factor in explaining the popularity of the serial genre among Czechoslovak audiences of the time.

Editor: Peter Goddard

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