-TV Analysis Paper

Project instructions:
Select either a U.S. TV show (and FOCUS on ONLY ONE PARTICULAR EPISODE) and write an analysis from a critical communications perspective.

Recall that our book describes a critical perspective as questioning and engaging what we experience. Additionally, consider what it means to undertake a critical inquiry: asking complicated questions and sorting out the implications of our actions (or inactions). You will be looking at your chosen media and analyzing the communication among the characters, their dialogue, identities, contexts, perceptions, assumptions (stereotypes), hegemonic forces (power relationships), and try to locate some of the dialogic interactions in which co-created cultural meanings are reinforced or challenged. (Think gender, sexuality, race, culture, language use, listening, dialogue, etc.)

You may choose any popular U.S. TV shows but remember you are going to focus only ONE particular episode of the TV show. (DO NOT CHOOSE REALITY SHOWs)

Writing Guidelines:

1. After selecting your episode, begin by thinking about what is happening in your episode. After your introduction, you should include a short summary of what is going on. (This is intended to contextualize your analysis.) Reflect on this and think critically about what these interactions, characters, settings, contexts, etc., mean. (What meaning is being produced?)

For example: If we were to take a ?Family Guy? episode, we may focus in on how the show portrays various races and/or cultures. Or perhaps how women, men, or children are portrayed. What are the themes at play and how to they support or challenge the topic matter they are addressing?

2. After thinking about what is at work in your episode, decide upon 2-3 communication angles to address. Let?s say you decide to talk about gender and education (the way children are taught in the show). Then, think about what is going on in these portrayals and performances. What possibilities are created and are any noticeably foreclosed (meaning something is missing or taken-for-granted).

For example: If a scene portrays a classroom setting with a white male teacher instructing the class about farming, does he present this lesson from a particular perspective? Perhaps he assumes that women aren?t interested in farming and only talks about farmers as being male. Maybe the classroom is mostly men. Maybe he views farmers as a ?dying breed? in decline. What sort of ?proof? does he offer for these claims? What supports or challenges these views that you see at work in your show/film. What is missing? What is there that shouldn?t be (in your opinion)?

3. After deciding which communication themes to focus on, provide a few examples from the episode for each (situations where this is occurring?or not occurring; absent).

For example: In the bathroom scene it is clear that Sydney was uncomfortable with Joey?s assumption that ?girls don?t poop.? This is supportive of the gendered assumption that women are fundamentally ?different? from men and more delicate and pure. From a critical perspective, this locates women as fragile beings and reinforces the logic that men are superior and stronger. Further along in the episode, we see Sydney using reflexivity when she notices that Joey treats her differently than Pete, and she lets him know that this isn?t fair by explaining how bad it makes her feel.


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