This chapter argues that The Wire is more than an important cultural depiction of contemporary urban life; it presents and fosters a radical sociological imagination, which begs for action. It also argues that the show serves to highlight and draw attention to the social, economic, and racial inequality at the heart of America. By revealing the intricate and intimate interrelations between society's layers, races, and classes, the show forces viewers to confront the ethics of tolerating and benefiting from these inequalities. The chapter discusses inequality in the US and The Wire before turning to the show's normative political implications. The Wire demands an ethical response from viewers in two principal ways. First, The Wire is a story about social structure. Second, The Wire implicates its audience through the structural-relational account of individuals and institutions.
This chapter uses the vehicle of American Movie Channel's The Walking Dead to explore one of the most fundamental questions we can ask as a species: what does it mean to be human? It begins by outlining the history and rise of the zombie genre. Then, the chapter explores how this relatively popular-culture penchant relates to IR and US world politics. Next, it analyses the discursive intervention of The Walking Dead, connecting the show's storylines with contemporary developments in American politics as well as more timeless issues of political theory. To do so, the chapter considers, further, the role of violence in understandings of humanity and human-ness and what it is that is at stake in struggles to contest these definitions. The Walking Dead makes a discursive intervention that highlights humanity's more problematic behaviours, nudging us to reconsider how we might act in the present.
Fictional television's second golden age at the start of the twenty-first century has taken the relationship of American politics and the small screen to unprecedented heights of intimacy. Before turning to evaluate the enduring challenge of studying the Donald J. Trump presidency, this conclusion chapter recaps and summarises some of the ground covered and arguments developed. The phenomenon that these arguments help to conceptualise will long outlast Trump's tenure. After that, the chapter highlights the importance of popular culture and fictional television in the contemporary era that is Trump's America. Trump's relationship with the screen, whether the television or his iPhone, has consistently illustrated why the Office of President is seen to enjoy the communicative benefits of the bully pulpit.