· M7 Overview
· M7.1 Content Guide: Global TV
· M7.2 Content Guide: The Future of Television and Culture
· Mittell, Chapter 11, Conclusion
· Biancullis, Chapter 18
CONTENT GUIDE; GLOBAL TV
For most of TV’s history Americans traditionally watched American television in English, with only a few exceptions on Public Broadcasting, which sometimes showed popular British or Canadian shows originally made in English. In general, if producers thought U.S. viewers would be interested in programming from other countries, they remade it under another title with American actors. They believed, at the time correctly, that most viewers would not enjoy hearing accents, or reading subtitles and would not watch programs if they had them.
These days, however, BBC America is a staple on cable TV, and there are several Spanish language stations on basic cable. For an additional fee, viewers can pay for “tiers” of channels showing programs in languages other than English including programming and news from Chile, Russia, Israel, Vietnam, or China. Streaming services have also started adding more global TV including shows from Great Britain, France, and Korea that get high viewership and anime is a much more common animation style in the U.S. than it once was. Squid Game, for example, was a global phenomenon.
Shows like Lost had characters who weren’t native English speakers and so scenes with them often included subtitles. Audiences got used to that and subtitles started being used frequently in many contexts for longer scenes. Downton Abbey became extremely popular on PBS, and now many more British imports have taken slots on TV schedules.
At the same time, people in other countries watch American TV, and learn about the U.S. and its values from it, often getting wrong messages from it. Many people moved to the U.S. because they saw rich people on shows like Dallas or Dynasty, and were surprised to find that most Americans aren’t part of the 1%. International audiences don’t always take to the same sorts of shows Americans do. Sitcoms that rely on wordplay, idioms, and knowledge of the popular culture of the U.S. often fall flat in other countries. Seinfeld, for example, did not do well internationally, while Friends, which has some of those features, but is more about relationships, did better.
What’s the deal with translating Seinfeld | The Verge
Have you watched TV from other countries or in languages other than English? What struck you about it?
CONTENT GUIDE – THE FUTURE OF TELEVISION AND CULTURE
Because there are so many outlets, production studios have commissioned a huge number of products. In 2000, the various networks, cable channels and premium cable channels made about 200 scripted series per year. However, with the rise of streaming, in 2019 there were 532 scripted series (meaning sitcoms, dramas, cartoons), as well as a huge number of reality shows, news or commentary shows, sporting events and so on that don’t even count in that number. The Covid-19 Pandemic caused a number of these to be delayed or canceled, but the number was still quite large.
Koblin, J. (2021, February 28).
How the Pandemic Stalled Peak TV. The New York Times.
All this change has changed the way people watch. Viewing was once communal with whole families watching prime time TV together, or colleagues waiting for the next episode excitedly so they could talk it over “at the water cooler” the next day. Now, if people discuss shows at all, it’s often in online forums where they recommend things to each other, as it’s rare to find someone who watches exactly what you do when you do at the same pace you do and even those with the best of intentions might miss an episode and then be unable to converse because they’ve been “spoiled.”
Some streaming outlets work on the “binge” model, in which every episode of a season is available. Others use the weekly model TV networks and cable channels have used, where a primetime show will air each Tuesday, or a talk show might air each weeknight, although in general on streaming shows “drop” at midnight or early in the morning. Most of the streaming outlets also include a large number of “legacy” programs, in other words, programs that originally aired on networks or cable that are generally available season by season, sometimes as part of the package, sometimes for an extra fee.
And then there is shorter form video, such as you might find on parts of YouTube, or independent video on personal websites that the older ones of us might not even identify as television, and the younger of you might not even realize is something different from large company produced television. The streaming outlet Quibi was started in April 2020 to make series including very short episodes designed to be watched on your phone on the subway or while standing in line at the drugstore, and, perhaps due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, or perhaps due to poor product, closed in December of the same year.
Some actual network or cable TV shows such as Broad City and Drunk History started first as independent video and were picked up for later seasons on cable. Rachel Bloom was “discovered” singing original songs and parlayed that into Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Is watching the new baby bears on a feed from the National Zoo watching TV? What about an influencer who is unboxing her latest haul from Sephora, a TikTok dancer, or a citizen journalist showing a video of a cop shooting a citizen on Twitter or a reunion of a sitcom cast on Facebook Live?
It’s also getting harder to tell a “television show” from a “movie.” People watch movies at home that are made by streaming services and may have the high budgets of theatrical movies and earn Oscars rather than Emmy awards (or both.) Some producers talk about how their shows are “seven hour movies,” and movie series like Star Wars and The Avengers have spawned TV series and characters may move back and forth between long and shorter forms.
Many viewers discuss what they watch online and watch online. The merging among movies, TV and the Internet is sometimes called “convergence.”
At the same time, political changes mean that some groups want to “cancel” what others may watch. Extremely political opinion on “news” channels means that we live in separate bubbles while believing separate “facts.” This can matter, as when some newscasters encourage vaccine use and others call it into question, which has real-life effects on whether people live or die. Others may transmit “facts” about elections that call results into questions for some viewers and cause civil unrest.
Many changes will happen in terms of technology, viewing habits, modes and content in the future.
“What’s the Best Way to Release a Show: Weekly or All at Once? – IGN.” Digital Spy. Accessed 22 June 2021.
Assignment 1 – 1 page
1. Watch at least three episodes of any show from country other than the U.S. It may be in English or in another language.
2. Please quote and correctly cite Mittell (you do not need to use Bianculli for this one)
3. Find a critical online essay from the Library on global television and your specific show, genre, country, or language—and incorporate that into one of your posts. [Link to it using a permanent link. Make sure it opens in a new window.] If your show is newer, you may not find an article about this show, but you can use a quote about television in that country or language.
4. Explain which episodes of which shows you watched, and briefly outline the plot.
5. Discuss the “cultural work” that this show is doing.
6. You should be examining the various ways another culture is represented and reflected on television and how it differs from U.S. TV. Refer back to classic shows to discuss contrasts.
Assignment 2 – 1 page
Reflect on changes in television over time. how you think TV may change in the future, and its impact on American culture. How have TV viewing habits changed? Explain why or why not, and how. What about the content of TV? What about streaming television or internet TV? How is this changing the television industry? What do you think will happen in the future?
How about controversies like “#OscarsSoWhite”, “#Metoo” or changes in politics?
Quote, and correctly cite, the assigned reading for this module.
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