Links to Showcase Posts and Comments

Well, it is now week 12 and that means the end of this semester.  Taking a much closer look at television has been very interesting and is knowledge that I will surely take back home to the states.

Here are the links to my two “showcase” posts:

Showcase Post #1: Week 4 – Transmedia Trends & “The Webisode”

Showcase Post #2: Week 5 – Geographies

I’ve also read quite a few of the other class member blogs and here are the comments that I’ve wrote and the links to the corresponding posts:

Comment #1:

Kit Harvey’s “Tomorrow Comes Early” Blog

“Week 10: “Reality Television” – is a renaming in order?”

“I really enjoyed your post’s analysis of “reality” TV! We share similar opinions on the matter. I think I’m going to adopt your term, “Quasi-Reality.” Perfect way to describe it in one word.

I find it quite alarming that some people think of “reality TV” as actually real. The fact of the matter is that even if there was no scripting in a show like Big Brother, pure reality would still be construed because there is simply no way to show every frame of footage to show the true reality. Even if there was a way to show all of the footage on that show, who knows if those people (or should we call them cast members?) would act differently off camera? Like you said, my bet is that almost every houseguest would act differently.

That being said, I will admit that I do like some of these shows. I’ve watched the past few seasons of Big Brother back in the states, which is quite different than the Australian version. I’ve even managed to catch two or three episodes of The Farmer Wants a Wife since I’ve been here. Thankfully, at least you and I (and hopefully the majority of viewing population) realise that “reality TV” is not really true reality.”

Comment #2:

Blake O’Neill’s “Yearingcat” Blog

Why is Reality TV enjoyable?

“I never really thought of day-time talk television as reality but now that you bring it up they really are similar in many ways. The thought of reality television to so many people who enjoy more “quality” based shows usually makes them scoff. The thing is though, like you brought up, there are a lot of people who actually like these shows because they are more easily able to connect to people. I also like the point that you make about how even if a reality television show is just framed to seem like reality, the audience can still connect to it more closely in a “real” manner than if it were Mad Men or something. Often I struggle to find why I am so intrigued by reality television, but a lot of the items you’ve brought up in your post bring to light some interesting ideas as to why this may be.

Great post!”

Comment #3:

Stephanie Iversen’s “Me and TV” Blog

“So Much Love”

“I really enjoyed your post, Stephanie.

Like you, I also think that if I had watched the entire series from beginning to end, it would have built a strong relationship with me.  I really like how you liken to the fact of the relationship that a viewer develops with the show and the characters.  I completely agree, it seemed like the family, or the wives more specifically, had come a long way from what I had seen in the pilot.  I would also agree with your statement that the show is somewhere in-between a soap opera and a melodrama, but that it is still considered, in my mind, a show of narrative complexity.

To be honest, when I heard the media talking about the controversy of the show a few years ago when it debuted, I thought it wouldn’t be a good show.  However, now that I’ve seen it, it really seems like it is a decent show and is one I’ll probably watch if I ever see it on HBO while flipping through the channels some day.”

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Week 10 – Reality TV

Ahh, the bain of the existence of television: reality TV (or at least, that’s how some people view it).

Reality television is genre that I will admit I watch quite often.  I have religiously watched shows like Big Brother (both the U.S. version and the Australian version on Nine Network), The Amazing Race (U.S.), and Hells Kitchen (U.S.).

The basic premise behind it is quite clever in my belief.  The whole idea is for it to connect better to audiences in that there are “real” people that are showcased on the show.  The idea of it is that it is unscripted and that these are real people who can relate to the real people that are watching.  This is an oversimplified definition and by no means do most of these so-called “reality TV” shows abide by that rule.

Kyoung-Lae Kang sums it up well in this statement from  their review article on the book “Reality TV: Remaking Television Culture,” written by Susan Murray and Laurie Ouellette:

“Despite the widespread success of reality TV and its corresponding familiarity to contemporary TV viewers, the term ‘reality TV’ is unlikely to convey a unified and agreed-on meaning.”

The idea of reality TV is very subjective, as is a lot of the material involved in the culture of television.  I don’t think there is one unified idea of what a reality television show can be classified as.  Some would classify it as everyday real-life television shows where others would describe them as 100% fake.  My take on it is somewhere in-between those two extremes.

One interesting article that I came across while looking for some interesting viewpoints to write this post states that reality TV isn’t far off from the typical format of a game show.

Scott Sternberg writes in his article “They’re Not Reality TV, They’re Game Shows,” that reality television is successful on the same bases that game shows are successful.

“We want to see winners and losers, and we enjoy watching others fight it out for prizes. Viewers derive pleasure from pitting themselves against contestants, an attraction similar to that of video­gaming, an industry currently grossing ten times more than the movie business.”

He also talks about how greed is something that drives a successful reality and/or game show, and that these are aspects that need to be present in order for them to succeed in general.

I would agree with this analysis in that these reality television shows, for the most part, could be consider at least partly a game show.  For example, Big Brother is a competition-reality show.

I have watched both versions, although I am more familiar with the U.S. version.  From what I’ve seen, the U.S. version is much more competitive, but I’m assuming that the Australian version also has some competitive nature in it.

In the U.S. Big Brother, house guests compete in competitions each week and they fight until the end, to win the prize of $500,000.  As the show starts, viewers take in each personality that enters the house, not really taking any sides (or at least this is how I feel).

As the show progresses, much like a game show, you begin to pull for a particular few or a particular person to win the competition.  This is definitely something that is a part of Big Brother because viewers have very strong opinions on who they like and who they hate, and who they’d like to win the big prize at the end.

Another part of reality television which has really increased in popularity in the past 10 years or so is the interactive audience.  In shows like Big Brother, audiences can text message or vote in polls online to influence the show, or game as they sometimes call it themselves.  These outlets allow people to feel more connected to these shows, almost like it is a part of their life.  Instead of having no control over a drama or another type of show, with these, audiences have a better sense of control, and perhaps this gives them a better sense of control in their lives altogether.

Sternberg agrees with this saying, “The convergence of TV and the Web means interactivity is sure to increase.”  He said that in 2005, and since then, I would feel safe saying that it most definitely has increased quite a lot.

Big Brother isn’t the only show doing this.  Shows like American Idol have voting lines where viewers call in or text their vote to save a certain singer they like.  Another trend that I see on many reality television shows is a live twitter feed on the screen.  Big Brother Australia does this, and I think it makes the interactive experience even greater.

While I’ve heard of instances where this is manufactured in that those tweeting are sitting in a room at the production site, I still think it is quite interesting.  I always find myself looking at the comments section for reality television show websites to see what others are thinking, so I always am interested in this interactive aspect of reality TV.

Reality TV means something different to pretty much everyone.  For some, its an escape from their own life into a whole new life among average people.  For others, reality TV is just a horrible television genere of shows that will never mean anything to them.

—-

Works Consulted:

  1. Kang, Kyoung-Lae Kang. “Book Reviews: ‘Reality TV: Remaking Television Culture'” Journal of Popular Film & Television 34.2 (2006): 94-95. ProQuest. Web. 3 Oct. 2012. <http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.lib.rmit.edu.au/docview/2080905?accountid=13552&gt;.
  2. Sternberg, Scott. “They’re Not Reality TV, They’re Game Shows.” Broadcasting & Cable 135.53 (2005): 26. ProQuest. Web. 3 Oct. 2012. <http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.lib.rmit.edu.au/docview/225332284?accountid=13552&gt;.
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Week 9 – The Dispersal of Quality Television

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been talking about on this blog the attributes that describe what “quality television” is.  However, I feel like this term is very vague and open to interpretation   Personally, quality television to me isn’t just what is produced and aired on pay-tv channels, including the usually quality television king HBO.  One show, which I consider as part of the “quality tv” family is AMC’s Mad Men.

Since the show premiered in the American summer of 2007, I’ve heard great things about it amongst many of my friends.  Since my family at home does not subscribe to HBO, I never really thought of ever watching it, let alone any HBO show — which I’ve come to realise after seeing many HBO shows in this class is silly.  Just as a side note, I’ll be ordering HBO first thing when I return to the states, thanks to this class.  Anyway, the rave reviews have been subconsciously embedded in my mind so when I heard we would be screening Mad Men in the lecture this week, I was excited to see what all the talk was about.

We watched Season 1, Episode 13, “The Wheel.”  In a nutshell, the episode consisted of a man (Pete) trying to make a name for himself in his company, a woman learning that her husband could be having an affair (Francine), and a man (Don) who works for this company who is trying to sell this Kodak slide projector.  Despite the boring way I describe it, the episode was very captivating and is something that I consider as “quality tv.”

When the show first opened, it was in an office building.  The setting of this episode, and presumably the entire series, is very well executed.  The office building and clothing all resembles what you would think is what existed back in that time period.  The men were all in suites and the women were dressed professionally, but not to upstage the men.

To further enhance the authenticity of the setting, the characters act in the same general way that the social structure existed back then.  The men were in control and the women in the office were secretaries.  In the episode, one woman is hired as a secretary.  She is then given the opportunity to do the job of another man who his boss had a beef with.  It was interesting how the show scripted this part, as the woman was acted with astonishment as if this never happens (which was probably true back during the show’s depicted time period).

The fact that this show portrays this time period so well, especially in regards to setting and the aesthetics of the whole show in general, makes it more than qualified to join the “quality TV” club.  Many people believe that only HBO shows qualify, but shows like Mad Men on what these people may believe is a low-quality channel, AMC, are just as qualified.

Alessandra Stanley of the NY Times wrote a review of the series when it first debuted in 2007.

“‘Mad Men’ is both a drama and a comedy and all the better for it, a series that breaks new ground by luxuriating in the not-so-distant past.”

The show certainly isn’t my favorite by any means, but from what I’ve seen in class, it seems like a very well produced and well made show that pretty much stands for the definition of “quality tv.”

By saying this is a quality television show doesn’t mean it has it’s downfalls.  First of all, I’m not quite sure if this is because I haven’t seen many episodes or not but the story lines seem quite complicated.  I can’t really make judgements on this but for seeing one or two episodes, I’m still quite confused as to who is which character.

Another part, more specific to episode 13, was that Peggy (a secretary at the office) somehow doesn’t realise she is pregnant.  She finds this out when she goes to the hospital to be checked out, and she ends up having the baby right then.  I mean, come on.  That’s a little unrealistic.  Sure there is that “reality” television show called I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant back in the states on TLC, this storyline that she was pregnant and didn’t even know it was a bit far-fetched.

Despite the few shortcomings, this is series is one worth looking at.  If you’re one of those people who think HBO is the only destination for quality television, humour me and check out this show.  I think you’ll quite pleased.

Works Consulted:

1. Stanley, Alessandra. “Mad Men: Smoking, Drinking, Cheating and Selling.” NY Times. New York Times Company, 19 July 2007. Web. 26 Sept. 2012. <http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/19/arts/television/19stan.html&gt;.

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Week 8 – What is Big Love?

What is Big Love?

This is the question that I’m looking to answer through writing this post.

As I was watching the pilot episode, I had been thinking about how similar it felt to a soap opera.  It was extremely dramatic and very emotional, which I associate with soap operas.  Now, granted I haven’t really ever watched a Soap Opera (except on accident while flipping through the channels), but I have an idea as to what they are like.

Jason Mittell, a professor at Middlebury College in Vermont, disagrees with this.  He says that soap operas are much different from the melodramas, such as what Big Love is commonly referred to.

He argues more in relation to the complexity of television shows such as Big Love or other HBO shows, soap operas are much different.

“I don’t think the contemporary primetime narrative complexity that I write about has much in common with or influence from soap operas, except through their common connections to 1970s and 1980s primetime serials.”

I disagree with this as well.  I think saying that a soap opera is completely different than a melodrama or anything shown on HBO isn’t true.  Perhaps they don’t match up completely, but to say that they are completely different with little or no resemblance doesn’t make sense to me.

For example, both are shot in series.  In addition, both have very complex narratives, which draw the viewer in, evening keeping them in when they come back from a break or hiatus between different series.  Both genres are quite dramatic (and overly so for my taste) and so they fall in the same general category.  While they’re not exactly the same, they are quite close.

Back to Big Love, this series has a complex narrative like I mentioned before.  There are quite a few different characters to keep track of, and there are 4 different main characters; the husband and his three wives.  At first, I was quite confused and didn’t know which wife was which but as time went on, and once I watched the finale, it was quite clear who was who.

Michael Kackman, of University of Texas-Austin, describes the attributes as to why melodramas such as Big Love are considered quality TV.

“In fact, it’s melodrama’s simultaneous invocation of, and inability to resolve, social tensions, that makes it such a ripe form for serial narrativization, and which makes it a central, and maybe even necessary, component of quality television.”

I totally agree with this argument that Kackman is making.  Due to the fact that many of these quality programs delve into social situations, like in Big Love, these programs end up being more complex and draw the viewers in, which can be classified as quality TV.

I find that the argument that all HBO shows can be considered quality TV a bit of a sweeping overstatement.  All shows should be evaluated on a show-by-show basis.

Big Love is a quality TV show that really gets into the social idea of polygamy which is something that has been virtually untouched in television.  This quality, along with the attention to detail (both aesthetically and in the writing), makes Big Love quite a good show.  While I wasn’t expecting much when I knew we would be screened Big Love, I was pleasantly surprised.

——

Works Consulted:

  1. Kackman, Michael. “Flow Favorites: Quality Television, Melodrama, and Cultural Complexity.” Flow. FlowTV, 5 Mar. 2010. Web. 19 Sept. 2012. <http://flowtv.org/2010/03/flow-favorites-quality-television-melodrama-and-cultural-complexity-michael-kackman-university-of-texas-austin/&gt;.
  2. Mittell, Jason. “More Thoughts on Soap Operas and Television Seriality.” Media Commons (2009): n. pag. Web. 19 Sept. 2012. <http://mediacommons.futureofthebook.org/content/more-thoughts-soap-operas-and-television-seriality&gt;.
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Week 7 – The Narrative Complexity of Television Shows

According to Jason Mittell, a professor at Middlebury College in Middlebury, V.t., television in the past twenty years has been going through a new phase.  This phase, he argues, is one of experimentation of narratives and exploring story-lines with more than usual complexity.

“Narrative complexity is sufficiently widespread and popular that we may consider the 1990s to the present as the era of television complexity.”

He argues that not all shows these days can be considered complex, but there are a large number of shows that could be considered that.  These shows are ones that require a larger investment of time and attention from the audience in order to understand exactly what is occurring in the show.

My interpretation of this is that a storyline that is considered “complex” is one that requires a viewer to not only to watch each episode in order, but is one that requires viewers to actively engage in watching.  This is in contrast to the “non-complex” (or as I’d like to call mindless) television shows, which can be understood while half-asleep on the couch.

HBO, as Mittell mentions, broadcasts the bulk of these shows.  HBO’s brand is pretty much known for shows, regarded as high quality, that have complex story-lines.

For example, one which he mentions is The Wire.  When I viewed this in the lecture, I needed to pay very close attention or else I would get lost in the program quite quickly.  The flow of the program is so fast and dense, akin to the majority of movies, that it is imperative to keep close attention in order to be able to understand what is occurring.

(Here is a clip of the first episode ever of The Wire):

When we viewed the recap clip in the lecture, it was quite jarring to see all of these different story-lines of different characters and situations crashing together.  For me, it was nearly impossible to follow.

This is stark contrast to the lesser-complex shows.  One of the many examples of this is Family Guy.  While there are themes from Family Guy that carry over from episode to episode and the viewing experience is likely better for those who have watched previous episodes, it is overal quite easy and understandable for first-time viewers to just jump into any episode of any season.  The understandability of the show is so easy that any one random episode could be chosen and the viewer would automatically understand what is going on.

One may say that the approach of making a television show with a overly-complicated story-line will fail.  However, Mittell points out that in the past 20 years or so, this has been less of an issue.

“…as the number of channels have grown and the size of the audience for any single program has shrunk, networks and channels have grown to recognize that a consistent cult following of a small but dedicated audience can suffice to make a show economically viable.”

For this reason, I think it is definitely viable to have shows such as The Wire, or other HBO shows like Game of Thrones, or even a show such as Lost on a traditional broadcast network.  If a show has a resonance with a particular population of the television viewing audience, it will most likely stick with them and these viewers will want to see the show all the way until its end.

I would argue that this is true for me as well in many instances.  One instance is for the quite popular television show The Big Bang Theory.  While I would say that this show isn’t as complex as a show that can be viewed on HBO, I do not think it is lacking complexity to be classified in the same category as Family Guy.  Anyways, when I began to watch the show, I became hooked and I kept watching, season after season.  I know that this show has quite a following, especially for those who are in the science field.  What is interesting is that this show bridges different audiences because while some of the content would appeal to science lovers, the other parts of the show will appeal to science loathers because of the types of characters and the story-line.

Big Bang Theory has a storyline that allows for viewers to mostly understand what is going on if they haven’t seen the show before when watching a random episode, or if you miss a few episodes.  However, there are some pretty important pieces of the knowledge that other audience members gain from watching the missed episodes that it is a good idea to watch the other missed episodes.

One show that I would classify as complex that I have watched religiously would be Heroes.  I spoke about Heroes earlier in the semester in regards to the webisodes that were put out for the show.  Not only were the webisodes complex in content, but the actual show itself is complex.  If you were to walk in to the living room and see the 3rd episode of the 1st season on the TV, you would probably not understand what is happening in the show.

For the most part, I would have to agree with most of what Mittell is saying, especially with the point that these types of shows have a profitable audience.  History now has shown that these complex shows are viable, not only on paid channels like HBO, but even on broadcast networks both in America and in Australia and other countries alike.

—-

Works Consulted:

  1. Mittell, Jason. “Narrative Complexity in Contemporary American Television.” The Velvet Light Trap 58.1 (2006): 29-40. Print.
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Week 6 – Audiences and Matters of Taste

“Game of Thrones” is an HBO series that is geared towards the fantasy genre.  We watched the pilot show in class and it was quite amazing.  The ascetics of it were simply beautiful.  The whole episode was simply movie-quality and very unlike most other television shows.

Delving into the pilot episode more and how it started (it’s already on its way to its 3rd season) uncovers some interesting topics.

An review of the show published in the New York Times in April 2011 made some interesting arguments that set off quite a firestorm all over the Internet.  The author, Ginia Bellafante, wrote that the show was “…boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half.”  She implied that the show would not appeal to women and this assertion is something that many online disputed.

David Barnett, of The Guardian, wrote an article of Bellafante’s review.  The article details other blogs and news outlets such as The Huffington Post and Geek With Curves and their responses to Bellafante’s misguided review.

In short, the review basically says that women are being shown as a tool for sex only.  Bellafante’s belief is that this is cause enough for most women to be turned off.  However, as can be seen around the Internet, this is quite a disputed assumption.

On the blog Geek Girl Diva, Geek Girl Diva wrote:

“Any geek girl (wait, do I need to explain that term to you) would happily tell you that she’s looking forward to Game of Thrones. Not because of the sex, but because of the story, the intrigue, the swordplay and — oh yeah, I forgot — the fact that it’s based on books they’ve read.”

While this certainly doesn’t represent all women, this is the general sentiment of views that are posted on these web pages.

I find it quite interesting that there was such a chord struck when this review by Bellafante was published.  In some ways I can totally see where she is coming from as one of the bigger themes of the show (in my opinion) was sex related or just plain sex.  However, I think making the complete assumption that women will purely not be interested in this show because of this one theme, of the many in the show, is quite outrageous.

Making an overreaching assumption and generalisation like that is always dangerous.  Everyone has different beliefs and different likes so it is very risky to say that a certain group of people do or don’t like something.

One example besides “Game of Thrones” that I can think of would be who watch soap operas.  It is easy to say that it’s all women who watch it, however I don’t believe that.  There has got to be at least one man who watches a certain soap opera.  Just because your beliefs and likes lead you to steer clear from certain genres of shows doesn’t necessarily mean your neighbor does the same.

A lot of these preconceived ideas and assumptions stem from our society as a whole.  The perceptions of which “type” of people like which “type” of show comes from how we stereotype people into different categories.  Its something that, I believe, ultimately cannot be avoided.  However, it should be objectified as much as possible.  If you just go by your “gut” feeling, there is a big chance that you will not be right because there will be a certain portion of the population watching that you wouldn’t have thought did.

Now, I’m not saying that these assumptions are false.  I believe that more men probably do watch Game of Thrones, and while I can’t say for certain that its just the sex that brings them, but it probably plays a factor in it.  The same goes for women.  I would say that there probably aren’t as many women watching, but there are still women watching.  They may not be watching for the sexual themes, or they may be watching for them; its honestly hard to know unless you do a survey with every single person that has ever watched the show.

As for the genre of fantasy itself, it is quite a niche genre.  According to an article written by Michael Hinman of AirlockAlpha.com, the emmys nominated for the show were almost all creative-oriented, except for it was nominated for Best Drama.  This is not only the case with Game of Thrones, as most others in this category have the same issue.  Due to the fact that it is such a niche genre, the wide appeal isn’t there.

The shows of this genre are so fine-tuned into the type of genre that people who are on the fence of liking fantasy would believe it is too much for them.  Another words, these people and the other fair-weather viewers out there will likely pass over Game of Thrones and other television shows like it in favor for something easier to understand or more widely appealing (like a reality television show or something to that nature).

Personally, this genre of fantasy doesn’t really speak to me.  If the pilot was not presented to me like it was in class, I probably would have never watched it and would have never thought anything of it.  I thought it was a good show though.

Yes, I liked it but the truth of it is, I probably will not watch it again unless it is presented to me like that to me again.

—–

Works Consulted:

  1. Barnett, David. “Game of Thrones: Girls Want to Play, Too.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 23 Oct. 0018. Web. 05 Sept. 2012. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2011/apr/18/game-of-thrones-girls-fantasy&gt;.
  2. Bellafante, Ginia. “A Fantasy World of Strange Feuding Kingdoms.” New York Times. New York Times Company, 14 Apr. 2011. Web. 05 Sept. 2012. <http://tv.nytimes.com/2011/04/15/arts/television/game-of-thrones-begins-sunday-on-hbo-review.html?_r=0&gt;.
  3. Hinman, Michael. “‘Game Of Thrones’ Leads Genre Emmys, But Lots Of Snubs.” Airlock Alpha. Nexus Media Group Inc, 19 July 2012. Web. 05 Sept. 2012. <http://airlockalpha.com/node/9273/node/903/television-legend-andy-griffith-dies-86.html&gt;.
  4. “To Ginia Bellafante Regarding Your “Review” Of Game Of Thrones. [Rant].” Web log post. Geek Girl Diva. Blogger, 15 Apr. 2011. Web. 5 Sept. 2012. <http://www.geekgirldiva.com/2011/04/to-ginia-bellafante-regarding-your.html&gt;.
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Week 5 – Geographies (Showcase Post)

Can you make sense of the following video?

Unless you speak Japanese, you probably can’t understand its true meaning.  However, is it really that hard to figure out what is going on?  I would argue that it isn’t.  Clearly, this excerpt from Tokyo Love Story shows two people who are falling in love (as shown by sequences in the introduction and the absolutely wondrous 90s theme music).

I found that the excerpts in class (with the help of English subtitles) were extremely interesting.  This is at least partially due to the fact that I’ve never watched a Japanese television show before (except for Pokemon, if that even counts).  However, I think the main reason is purely because I have never had a good insight into Japanese culture.

I found that by watching the parts to this series that I could better understand the Japanese culture.  Now, I know that this is probably an idealized version of what really happens in Tokyo, but I can still gather what the values are of the culture and the overall ways for which it operates.  I find it like a piece of history to explain the culture and the time period for which it was made.  This can be argued for really any television show really, but its even more interesting purely because of the fact that I’ve never seen it before.

The way television shows are made in general is very interesting in the sense that it caters to the audience in each geographic area.  For example, there are certain societal ideas that are geographically specific for which another geographic region of viewers may completely misunderstand.  There are probably multiple different interpretations of Tokyo Love Story, and mine is probably much different than of a Japanese person.

Culture in each respective geographic area plays an extremely big role in the way that television programs are made.  Due to this, people who watch these programs must be emerged in this culture in order to understand and gain the most pleasure out of watching a specific television program.

Using the Tokyo Love Story example again, someone watching in Japan will have much more pleasure watching the television show than someone who doesn’t speak the language and someone who lives in a completely different culture, such as in Australia.  It can be argued that, like me, an Australian/non-Japanese speaking person would enjoy it purely because they’re gaining insight into the culture of Japan.  However, overall, the Japanese will gain the most pleasure and gratification from watching it out of anyone else in the world because it is made for them and made to pertain to their society.

The idea of the whole show Tokyo Love Story is pretty much centered around two people who eventually fall in love with each other.  This is something that is quite universal among all cultures.  So, it can be said that television shows geared to a specific culture can cross-cultures and bring some gratification to others.  They understand the basic idea of love, but they don’t have the past experiences in their life in the Japanese culture to fully understand the whole situation of what is occurring and why they do certain things in that culture.

A more basic idea of this whole principle can be exemplified by looking at a show such as Nine Network’s Underbelly: Badness.

I have watched excerpts of this show a few times, and while I don’t think it’s that great of a series, I understand it for the most part.  However, there are times when unfamiliar Australian terminology come up and I do not know what is meant.  Even details as small as this make a big difference in the amount of pleasure and gratification that is attained by the viewer.  Australians who watch the show will definitely understand the show the best out of anyone else, because it is simply aimed to do that.

This effect is probably the same for Australians while watching American television shows.  Since I am American, I cannot fully say for certain that this is true.  However, I would guess that it is simply because I’m sure there are some terms, culture differences, and accents that are difficult to understand and impede attaining maximum gratification from watching.  As we all know, these little misunderstandings does not stop the American shows from being shown in Australia.

Stephen Moynihan, in his article “Australia faithful to US television,” confirms this fact by speaking to some Australian network staff.

“…Channel Nine program manager Len Downs said US shows had not lost their viewer appeal.  He said Australia was not following the international trend for US shows to be cut from prime time. Ratings, not where a program was produced, were what mattered.  The trend defies a longstanding assumption that US dramas and sitcoms would continue to overshadow local shows.”

American TV shows are not the only ones being exported.  Japanese TV dramas are very popular in East Asia.  Koichi Iwabuchi’s article, “Discrepant Intimacy: Popular Culture Flows in East Asia,” explains this whole idea very well.

“The most receptive market to Japanese TV drama is Taiwan, in which there are four cable TV channels solely broadcasting Japanese programs.”

Due to this infiltration of Japanese culture into Taiwanese culture, many popular Japanese icons and popular culture have become prevalent in Taiwan.  As more people in Taiwan watch these television programs from Japan, the more they feel as part of that culture.

I would say that this is true for anyone watching a television show that originates from another culture.  For example, when I watched Underbelly: Badness , I felt like I was assimilating in a way into the Australian culture.  By watching this show, I was almost practicing and learning about the culture to become part of it.  Due to the fact that the show most resembles the idea of Australian society, those who watch from outside the society are likely to become more versed in the culture and may believe that they’ve become part of the culture.

With the continued expansion of material on the Internet, this is quite easy to do.  As you can see in the clip posted at the beginning of the post, a person in a country where Tokyo Love Story was broadcast recorded the show and uploaded it to YouTube themselves.  This is something that is done for almost any semi-popular television show.  For someone who lives in Australia who wants to see an episode of an American television show, it is much easier than it used to be to watch it.  With a quick search of YouTube, it should be extremely easy to find a clip of the show.

The fact that television shows from different cultures are available online is awesome.  This makes it even easier for people of different cultures to gain insight into at least the popular culture of others.  This is something that truly interests me and Friday’s lecture on the topic has sparked my interest to look further into new and lesser-known television shows from other countries.

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Works Consulted:

  1. Iwabuchi, Koichi. “Discrepant Intimacy: Popular Culture Flows in East Asia.” Discrepant Intimacy: Popular Culture Flows in East Asia (2005): 19-36. Print.
  2. Moynihan, Stephen. “Australia Faithful to US Television.” The Age [Melbourne] 6 Jan. 2012: n. pag. The Age. 6 Jan. 2012. Web. 22 Aug. 2012. <http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/01/05/1041566310362.html&gt;.
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