TV Drama and Representation

Introduction to TV Drama booklet.

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TV Drama

Sub-genres:

  • Teen Dramas: These depend entirely on the target audience empathizing with a range of authentic characters and age-specific situations and anxieties, e.g. Skins.
  • Soap operas: These never end, convey a sense of real time and depend entirely on audiences accepting them as ‘socially realist’, e.g. Coronations Street.
  • Costume Dramas: These are often intertextually linked to ‘classic’ novels or plays and offer a set of pleasers that are very different to dramas set in our own world contexts and times, e.g. Sharpe.
  • Medical/Hospital Dramas: These interplay our vicarious pleasure at witnessing trauma and suffering on the part of patients and relatives with a set of staff narratives that deploy soap opera conventions, e.g. Holby City.
  • Police/Crime Dramas: These work in the same way as medical/hospital dramas but we substitute the health context for representation of criminals and victims, e.g. The Bill.
  • Docu-dramas: These are set apart from the others by their attempts to dramatize significant real events, which usually have human interest, celebrity focus or political significance, e.g., Hamburg Cell.
  • Sci-Fi / Fantasy dramas: e.g. Doctor Who, Torchwood, and Primeval.
  • Action Dramas: e.g. Ultimate Force and Spooks.
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Narrative Structure

Narrative: the storyline of the media text and the techniques used to tell the story.

Open narrative: when the narrative allows for sequels.

Closed narrative: when the narrative doesn’t allow for sequels.

Flexi-narrative: when there is more than one story in the narrative (multiple stories).

Tzvetan Todorov: Todorovian narrative structure:

1. Equilibrium in the diegetic world (the world in which the story is set).

2. Disruption causes disequilibrium.

3. Attempt to repair disequilibrium.

4. Resolution / New equilibrium.

(In order to create drama, this equilibrium needs to be disrupted by an outside force, often creating an enigma. This disruption has to be fought against in order to return to a state of normality (equilibrium).)

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Narrative and Representation

Claude Levi-Strauss:

Binary opposition theory: the way we understand certain words depends not so much on any meaning they themselves directly contain, but much more by our understanding of the difference between the word and its 'opposite' or, as they called it 'binary opposite'. That words merely act as symbols for society's ideas and that the meaning of words, therefore, was a relationship rather than a fixed thing: a relationship between opposing ideas.

In media texts binary opposites could include men vs women in the macro representational issue of gender, we can see this binary opposition through the narrative and also the micro elements of the media text.

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Audience Positioning

The audience is never given the full story in terms of the narrative in the sense of the background narrative of the media text, we are only given parts of the narrative which we then get a certain representation from.

Preferred reading: meaning encoded into a media text by mediation to show you what the producers want you to see. Reflects dominant ideologies of society.

(This work was based on Stuart Hall's encoding/decoding model of the relationship between text and audience - the text is encoded by the producer, and decoded by the reader, and there may be major differences between two different readings of the same code. However, by using recognised codes and conventions, and by drawing upon audience expectations relating to aspects such as genre and use of stars, the producers can position the audience and thus create a certain amount of agreement on what the code means.)

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Micro Elements

Micro Elements: (Technical decisions) Camera angle, shot, movement and composition

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Macro Elements

Macro Elements:

Macro representation issues: (Macro elements (representation):

Gender

Age

Ethnicity

Sexuality

Regional identity

Class

Disability/Ability

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  • Docu-dramas: These are set apart from the others by their attempts to dramatize significant real events, which usually have human interest, celebrity focus or political significance, e.g., Hamburg Cell.
  • Sci-Fi / Fantasy dramas: e.g. Doctor Who, Torchwood, and Primeval.
  • Action Dramas: e.g. Ultimate Force and Spooks
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Comments

rhfghdf

These are good - your focus on key words is really helpful to others using your resources.

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