Cult and kitsch: Graeco-Roman myths on US television (1980s–90s) Part IV The 1980s and 1990s saw a number of dramatic developments in the television market and with it a notable shift in emphasis for television series set in antiquity. While the production of sophisticated British dramas such as I, Claudius declined in the early 1980s, a number of high-profile US miniseries set in antiquity conquered the screens. No doubt these shows aimed to draw on the success of shows like I, Claudius in the previous decade, but also tried to retain audiences in an
The last decade has seen a diffusion of the Gothic across a wide range of cultural sites, a relative explosion of Gothic images and narratives prompting a renewed critical interest in the genre. However, very little sustained attention has been paid to what we might term 'Gothic television' until this point. This book fills this gap by offering an analysis of where and how the genre might be located on British and US television, from the start of television broadcasting to the present day. In this analysis, Gothic television is understood as a domestic form of a genre which is deeply concerned with the domestic, writing stories of unspeakable family secrets and homely trauma large across the television screen. The book begins with a discussion on two divergent strands of Gothic television that developed in the UK during the 1960s and 1970s, charting the emergence of the restrained, suggestive ghost story and the effects-laden, supernatural horror tale. It then focuses on the adaptation of what has been termed 'female Gothic' or 'women's Gothic' novels. The book moves on to discuss two hybrid forms of Gothic drama in the 1960s, the Gothic family sitcoms The Munsters and The Addams Family, and the Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows. Finally, it looks at some recent examples of Gothic television in the United States, starting with a discussion of the long-form serial drama, Twin Peaks, as the initiator of a trend for dark, uncanny drama on North American television.
Freud described as “the highest degree” ’ ( 2005 : 63). The identification of Six Feet Under as Gothic television is interesting; it would certainly seem to me that, along with a number of other programmes recently identified as ‘quality US television’, such as The Sopranos (HBO, 1999–2006) and Desperate Housewives (ABC, 2004–), Six Feet Under refers to the Gothic genre in its desire to
television maker is rightly high, but his contribution to the more broadly defined world of US television cannot be under-estimated. Whether it be as nurturer of talent or network scourge, the Angel years made Whedon a formidable presence in the US TV arena. And then he went away for nearly seven years. Note 7
). Pose is a popular US TV series which focuses on this culture of ballroom, set in the NYC ballrooms of the 1980s and 1990s. It follows the lives of fictional African-American and Latinx trans and queer 1 characters who are partly based on real-life figures from the ballroom world of the 1980s and 1990s. The series initially follows the story of Damon Richards (Ryan Jamaal Swain), a young African-American man with ambitions of becoming a dancer, who
This chapter destabilises the binary of complexity and simplicity through the stylistic analysis of the US television programme Veep (HBO, 2012–19) in the exploration of schadenfreude embedded within its generic structure. Arguing that political satire has long been used as a didactic and moralising corrective to prevailing national political discourse, the chapter is organised around three episodes exemplifying the significance of performance, juxtaposition and caricature in the depiction of characters who are wholly unlikeable, but still a pleasure to watch. Giving equal weight is the supposition that Veep’s use of pithy language, improbable farce and highly stylised visual spectacle belie its incisive critique into American exceptionalism, superficiality and venal political impotence.
to learn from US TV advertising techniques. The parent company was certainly very experienced in television. It was an established producer of advertising and sponsored programmes on US television and had invested heavily in staff and technical resources. The latter included the creation of a television workshop complete with a fully equipped studio, television camera, 16mm sound motion-picture camera and closed-circuit television viewing facilities (Fig. 13). The television workshop was designed to allow clients to test out new ideas for advertising ‘under actual
live events, which really showed off the advantages of the new medium. Consequently, representations of antiquity, which possibly highlighted the disadvantages of the small screen rather than promoted it, were sparse in the early years of US television. But antiquity was not entirely absent from television. First, a significant number of large-screen epics found their way onto the small screen during this period, as noted in Part I, thus familiarising the audience with seeing the ancient world on television. During these years, ‘hundreds of European sword
reason, about order, about society – can be explored and discussed. This introduction will establish the framework for the chapters that follow by considering first the relationship between the gothic and realism, then the construction of masculinity, and finally the larger tradition of exploring gender in US television gothic. “Reconnoitering the Rim”: starting points
linkages are relevant.9 However since they provide the material conditions for any other links to occur and also for reasons of space we focus here on finance links. The growth of US television’s interest in the Olympics 1960–96 The USA in the immediate postwar period experienced high employment rates and fairly continuous economic growth for over a generation, which enabled a large internal market of people with relatively high disposable incomes to be developed. The introduction of the new media technology of television into this market in the early 1950s led to its