Articles

Cultural Learnings

[The following are longer pieces of analysis/commentary posted here at Cultural Learnings.]

Cultural Interview: PBS Digital Studios’ Frankenstein M.D. [August 2014]

  • An interview—Part One, Part Two—with producer Bernie Su, star Anna Lore, and PBS’ Matthew Graham.

Come and Stream Your Songs?: The Jukebox Soundtrack in the YouTube Spotify Era [August 2014]

  • Analysis of the success of Guardians of the Galaxy‘s Billboard No. 1 soundtrack.

At the Knick: A Transmedia Intivation to an Uninviting World [August 2014]

  • Analysis of the transmedia campaign for the Steven Soderbergh-directed Cinemax series.

Cultural Interview: Quick Draw‘s John Lehr on Being Renewed at Hulu [August 2014]

  • A discussion of the metrics of success/failure on the streaming site with the series’ showrunner.

Self-Gatekeeping: The Shifting Demographics of the 10/90 [August 2014]

The Court of Popular Discourse: The Authorship of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy [August 2014]

  • Analysis of the negotiation of authorship between credited writers Nicole Perlman and James Gunn.

Heart-Shaped Hole: Game of Thrones Season 4 and the Death of Reader Certainty [June 2014]

  • A spoiler-filled take on the deviations from the books on which the HBO series is based.

Sitcom and the Standup Experience: NBC’s Undateable [May 2014]

  • A take on the series’ negotiation of standup in the promotion leading to its premiere.

Negotiating 101: Sony, Hulu, and Community Season 6 [May 2014]

  • Analysis of the discourse around the —eventually failed—negotiations between Sony and Hulu.

What Genre is This?: How We Classify Webseries [May 2014]

  • A post considering how we apply traditional generic categories to web content.

2 Channels of Discovery: YouTube, Stardom, and 5 Seconds of Summer [April 2014]

  • Analysis of the narratives of discovery around emerging boy band 5 Seconds of Summer within their U.S. debut.

Discourse of Thrones: Jaime, Cersei, and Confronting Rape [April 2014]

  • A consideration of the debate and discourse surrounding Game of Thrones contested depiction of rape in its fourth season.

“Just Remember Me When…”: The Uncertain Legacies of the Veronica Mars Kickstarter [March 2014]

  • A year-later look back at the successful crowdfunding campaign.

Cultural Interview: Lauren Iungerich on the end of her Awkward. Journey [December 2013]

  • A two-part interview—Part One, Part Two—with Awkward creator Lauren Iungerich as she departs the MTV series after its third season.

So It’s Come to This: The Case for the Simpsons Clip Database [November 2013]

Better Without The Bear: How The Cancellation Bear Damages Ratings Culture [October 2013]

  • Analysis of how TV By The Numbers’ discourse affects how ratings are discussed online.

Interview: Hell on Wheels showrunner John Wirth [October 2013]

  • A discussion with the veteran showrunner on the meaning of the title, and his experience working on shows others created.

It Came In Like a [Carefully Calculated] “Wrecking Ball” [September 2013]

  • A consideration of the effect of streaming metrics being added to the Billboard Hot 100.

Demographics of Anarchy: Netflix, Afterword, and Gender [September 2013]

  • Considering Sons of Anarchy’s increased female viewership in light of its non-linear presence.

The Race to Address Race in Orange is the New Black [August 2013]

  • A criticism of articles about the Netflix series that fail to respond to the entire first season.

“About the Web? On the Web.” – Lena Waithe’s Twenties [August 2013]

  • Analysis of the challenges facing a cable-focused pilot presentation tied to—and seen on—the web.

Recap by Default: Why Terminology Matters to How We Write About Writing About TV [August 2013]

  • A reflection on the ubiquity of “recap” to describe the work of television critics in popular discourse.

The Familiar Five: Reflections on a Summer Movie Marathon [June 2013]

  • A breakdown of the experience of seeing five movies in a cineplex over a fourteen-hour period.

Mad Men and the Narrative Engine of Place in Season 6 [June 2013]

  • An analysis of the sixth season finale focused on its use of space and place.

The Fallacy of the Showrunner Fallacy (And why it’s still productive) [June 2013]

  • A response to a New Republic article criticizing showrunner-focused analysis of TV.

Why would Dan Harmon return to Community? [May 2013]

  • Considering the logic behind the rumored—then confirmed—return of the Community showrunner.

That was (writing about) Arrested Development: TV Criticism in a Binge-Viewing Era [May 2013]

  • Reflections on writing episodic criticism of Netflix’s all-at-once release of the series’ fourth season.

Lydia, Legacy, and the End of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries [March 2013]

  • A consideration of the transmedia narrative experience and legacy of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

A Box Of Influence: Game of Thrones, Social Media, and the Uncertain Quest for Cultural Capital [March 2013]

  • A continued analysis of the evolving transmedia campaigns surrounding the HBO series.

Alone in a Dark Place: Building Byzantium for Cinemax’s Hunted [October 2012]

  • Analysis of the distinctive transmedia campaign for the Cinemax series.

Why Netflix and DirecTV Probably Don’t Actually Want The Killing [August 2012]

  • On the logic of new content providers saving failed series from cable or broadcast.

Re-Lived Liveness: NBC’s Tape-Delayed Olympics Commentary [August 2012]

  • Analysis of how commentators construct liveness in their taped commentary in London 2012.

Unheard and Unheralded: White Collar‘s Problems with Class (and Beyond) [July 2012]

  • Analysis of the USA series’ representations of race and class.

An Animated Adventure Into Adolescence: Disney’s Gravity Falls [July 2012]

  • How the Disney Channel series reflects the liminality of its pre-teen audiences.

Cultural Interview: Awkward. Creator Lauren Iungerich [June 2012]

Welcoming the Zeitgeist: One Direction’s Saturday Night Invasion [April 2012]

  • Thoughts on logic behind the modern boy band’s appearance on the NBC series.

The Search for Significance: The TV Industry and the Golden Globes [January 2012]

  • Considering the relationship between legitimacy and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Transmedia Legitimation: Dark Score Stories and the A&E Brand [November 2011]

  • Analysis of the transmedia campaign for A&E’s Stephen King TV movie, Bag of Bones.

Funny Business: Critical Analysis of Television Comedies [October 2011]

Cultural Reading: George R.R. Martin’s A Dance with Dragons [July 2011]

  • A review, with spoilers, of the latest book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series.

Hiding Behind the Brand: How The Killing Threatens the Future of AMC [June 2011]

  • A look at how the backlash against The Killing finale threatened AMC’s brand.

Cultural Reading: Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games Trilogy [June 2011]

  • Thoughts on the series’ limitations and the challenges facing the upcoming film adaptations.

Pandering to the Demo: The Critics’ Choice Television Awards [June 2011]

  • Analysis of the vague, problematic makeup of this new Emmy alternative.

Winter Comes Early: Access, Game of Thrones and HBO Go [May 2011]

  • Thoughts on the impact of HBO releasing an episode a week early on their new online streaming service.

Re-Serializing Sports Entertainment: Jeff Katz’s Wrestling Revolution [May 2011]

  • Thoughts on a (now funded) Kickstarter initiative to offer a heavily serialized alternative to the WWE.

Questions of Taste: Dissecting the Dissection of Early Reviews of HBO’s Game of Thrones [Apr. 2011]

  • Thoughts on fan response to negative (and positive) early reviews of the HBO series.

Mildred vs. the Miniseries: Structure and Scheduling in HBO’s Mildred Pierce [Mar. 2011]

  • Considering the form of the long-form storytelling of the HBO miniseries.

Endangered Species: What the Emmy Merge Means for the Miniseries Form [Feb. 2011]

  • An analysis of the way the Emmy Awards merger of movie/miniseries might change the production culture surrounding those forms.

Achieving Authenticity: Unboxing (the Unboxing Of) Games of Thrones‘ Maester’s Path [Feb. 2011]

  • Analysis of the transmedia storytelling experience designed for the debut of the HBO series.

The Critic in (Online) Society: An Alternate History of 21st Century Television Criticism [Feb. 2011]

  • A response to discussions of the origins of post-air analysis TV criticism.

All Alone in the Moonlight: The Muddled Memory-Making of the 2011 Grammys [Feb. 2011]

  • A consideration of history and meaning in regards to this year’s ceremony.

Once More Unto the Breach: Kurt Sutter vs. Journalistic Ethics [Feb. 2011]

  • Thoughts on Kurt Sutter’s war with an interviewer over controversial statements from Sons of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam.

Rebel Without a Cause: Kurt Sutter’s War on (Some) Critics [Dec. 2010]

  • Analysis of Kurt Sutter’s attack on critics regarding the reception of Sons of Anarchy’s third season.

“It’s Not Fantasy, It’s HBO”: Going Inside HBO’s Game of Thrones [Dec. 2010]

  • Thoughts on HBO’s early online engagement with fans of the George R.R. Martin adaptation.

From Artifact to Aimlessness: Robin Sparkles in HIMYM’s “Glitter” [Nov. 2010]

  • A continuation of my analysis of Robin Sparkles and HIMYM’s imagined Canada.

The Construction of Race in Modern Family’s Second Season [Nov. 2010]

  • Thoughts on the show’s problematic early season representation of race and ethnicity.

Lone Star Lament: Kyle Killen and the Series’ Rise and Demise at Flow 2010 [Oct. 2010]

  • A report on Kyle Killen’s post-cancellation interview in Austin.

Label Lamentation: The Growing Misuse of “Recap” in TV Criticism Semantics [Sept. 2010]

  • An analysis of the falsely synonymous use of recap and review in online circles.

Interview: Talking Huge with Savannah Dooley [Sept. 2010]

  • An interview with the co-developer/writer for the ABC Family series.

Worked Over?: Jaclyn Santos’ Online Reclamation of her Work of Art Narrative [Aug. 2010]

  • An analysis of one contestant’s online efforts to deconstruct editorial narrative.

Who is Miles Mendenhall? Confronting Work of Art’s Enigmatic Anti-Hero [Aug. 2010]

  • An analysis of the most polarizing contestant on Bravo’s summer reality series.

Misdirected Scorn: Why 18 to Life Deserves Parole [Aug. 2010]

  • An analysis of American critical response to the Canadian import.

Could “C” Stand for Community: Musings on the Role of the TCA [July 2010]

  • An analysis of the current role of the Television Critics’ Association.

A Phantom Menace: Weiner’s Mad Men Spoiler War Misses Target [July 2010]

  • An analysis of Matthew Weiner’s war on spoilers leading up to Mad Men’s S4 premiere.

Some Extraction Required: Sharing the Experience of Interpreting Inception [July 2010]

  • An analysis of Christopher Nolan’s summer blockbuster, Inception.

Point of View: Bravo’s Work of Art a (Fascinating) Piece of Work [July 2010]

  • An analysis of the subversive and reductive elements of Bravo’s summer reality oddity.

Turning Over the Keys: Musical Guests in Reality Competition Programming [July 2010]

  • An analysis of how reality competition programs integrate musical acts into their narratives.

Rumination vs. Revelation: Pixar, the Remarkable, and Toy Story 3 [June 2010]

  • An analysis of Toy Story 3’s place within the trilogy and within Pixar’s films as a whole.

Trials and Transformations: Reflections on Watching The Biggest Loser [June 2010]

  • An analysis of the reality series’ appeal, as well as its failures.

A Serialized Man: The Narrative Pleasures of The Tobolowsky Files [May 2010]

  • An analysis of Stephen Tobolowsky’s narrative-focused podcast series.

Reflections on Reviewing Lost [May 2010]

  • An analysis of how reviewing Lost helped form my critical perspective.

Davis and Defictionalization: Treme’s Inherited Crisis of Continuity [April 2010]

  • An analysis of how Treme’s connection to The Wire forces its characters into a particular context.

Procedural Pacing: Why Justified’s Non-Serial episodes are justified [April 2010]

  • An analysis of gradual serialization within the FX series.

Moving into a Higher Genre Bracket: Catching up with Fringe [April 2010]

  • An analysis of catching up with the second season of FOX’s science fiction series.

The Malorian Enigma: Starz’s Camelot and the Misguided Adaptation [March 2010]

  • An extended analysis of the challenges facing adaptations of Malory’s Le Morte Darthur.

Scene-ic Storytelling: Philosophy and Memorability in SyFy’s Caprica [March 2010]

  • An analysis of Caprica’s unique form of structural serialization.

You Say Apology, I Say Shifting Blame: Big Love’s Chloe Sevigny vs. Context [March 2010]

  • An analysis of the fallout from Chloe Sevigny’s interview with The A.V. Club.

Excellence on Selective Terms: Rewarding Series Television at the Peabody Awards [March 2010]

  • An analysis of single episode vs. seasonal recognition at the Peabodys.

Agency begets Tragedy: Ruminations on catching up with Breaking Bad [March 2010]

  • An analysis of the first two seasons of the AMC series.

Winter is Still Coming: HBO takes Game of Thrones to Series [March 2010]

  • An analysis of the challenges and opportunities for the George R.R. Martin fantasy adaptation.

Battlestar Baggage: Why Caprica Deserves to Be Judged on its Own Merits [Feb. 2010]

  • An analysis of how the shadow of BSG’s finale unfairly hangs over Caprica.

A Canuck in an American Sitcom: Spatial Construction of National Identity in How I Met Your Mother [Feb. 2010]

  • An extended analysis of HIMYM’s depiction of Canada.

I’ve Been in This Town So Long: Serial Subtexts in Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains [Feb. 2010]

  • An analysis of continuities within Survivor’s 20th season.

What’s My Genre Again: The In(s)anity of the Saturn Awards [Feb. 2010]

  • An analysis of genre confusion at the annual Saturn Awards.

Big Like: Appreciation vs. Adoration in Three Seasons of Big Love [Jan. 2010]

  • An analysis of my time catching up with the HBO drama series.

The Scourge of Fandom: Why Lost Owes Us Nothing [Jan. 2010]

  • An analysis of the culture of expectation leading into Lost’s sixth season.

Missed Diagnosis: Narrative Pollution in Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures [Jan. 2010]

  • An analysis of narrative muddling in the HBO Canada miniseries.

More Than One Way To Steal a Scene: Scene Thievery in Television Comedy [Jan. 2010]

  • An analysis of the definition of “scene-stealer” in television comedy.

Credits where Credits Are (Or Aren’t) Due [Jan. 2010]

  • Analysis of what makes a good opening credits sequence, and why Nurse Jackie’s is terrible.

A Whole New World: World Building in Scrubs and Avatar [Dec. 2009]

  • An analysis of Avatar’s illumination of world-building challenges facing the ninth season of Scrubs.

AMC’s The Prisoner and Transmedia Participation [Nov. 2009]

  • An analysis of the missed opportunities for transmedia storytelling in AMC’s miniseries, and the resulting audience response.

Glee and the Limitations of Reality Competition Narrative [Nov. 2009]

  • An analysis of how Glee’s character development and story structure relates to that of American Idol, and the limitations therein.

Chuck vs. Fan Management vs. Fan Facilitation [Nov. 2009]

  • An analysis of NBC’s mismanagement of Chuck’s fanbase and its transmedia potential following the successful “Save Chuck” campaign in Spring 2009.

Screw Dramedy: How We Distinguish Between Comic and Dramatic Television [Nov. 2009]

  • An analysis of how audience preference defines genre, and this can often contradict arbitrary distinctions within the television industry.

Winter is Finally Coming: Anticipating HBO’s Game of Thrones [Aug. 2009]

  • Analysis of fan response/coverage of HBO’s in-development adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire.

Tactless Logic: The Emmy Awards Time-Shifting Fiasco [Aug. 2009]

  • Analysis of the industry protest over planned changes to 2009 Emmy Awards broadcast.

Cold Water Commentaries: Ronald D. Moore and the End of Speculation [Feb. 2009]

  • Analysis of Ronald D. Moore’s efforts to calm fan speculation leading up to final episodes of Battlestar Galactica.

It is Written: Slumdog Millionaire, Reality Television and the Power of Inevitability [Dec. 2008]

  • Analysis of Slumdog Millionaire’s relationship with reality show narrative structures within its Oscar-winning story.

In the World of J.J. Abrams, Fringe Watches You: Gradual Serialization and the Active Audience [Nov. 2008]

  • Analysis of how Fringe plays against serialized expectations of audience engagement present in J.J. Abrams’ other works.

Did Lost’s Flashforwards Spoil its Own Finale? [June 2008]

  • A discussion of whether Lost’s flashforwards ruined the suspense surrounding its fourth season finale.

Sound Off! on Hey! Nielsen – A Four Part Series [Oct. 2007] [1] [2] [3] [4]

  • Analysis of now defunct social media site Hey! Nielsen and its attempts to measure fan participation.

The ‘Jeriatrics': How Baby Boomers are Saving Jericho [Aug. 2007]

  • Analysis of the surprising demographics of the individuals who helped resurrect Jericho in Summer, 2007.

Why Fall Pilots are Leaking Online, and why Networks Should Embrace It [July 2007]

  • Analysis of the value of networks releasing the pilots of new series online ahead of their fall debut.

Sci-Futility: Why ‘Heroes’ and ‘Jericho’ will End Up Like ‘Lost’ [March 2007]

  • Analysis of the inevitably diminishing returns for the serialized science fiction drama series with large initial sampling.

Antenna: Responses to Media and Culture

[The following are contributions I have made to the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Department of Communication Arts blog, Antenna, which features a collection of scholars and graduate students commenting on media and culture as it happens. You can also find all of my contributions here.]

Pre-Prime: HBO’s Off-Channel Revenue Legacy [April 2014]

  • A historical framework for considering HBO’s partnership with Amazon Prime for streaming select HBO programming.

Bro-Friendly Fandom: The Blue Mountain State Kickstarter [April 2014]

  • A consideration of the gendered dimensions of crowdfunding campaigns and fandom more broadly.

Negotiating Authorship: Showrunners on Twitter VI [December 2013]

  • Analysis of Twitter as a space where creators and non-creating showrunners negotiate claims to authorship.

The Personal Stakes of Social Media: Showrunners [Off] Twitter V [October 2013]

  • A consideration of Damon Lindelof’s departure from Twitter.

Self-Important Spectacle: The 2013 Emmy Awards [September 2013]

  • An analysis of the 2013 Emmy Awards ceremony and its misguided celebration of television.

Disney Infinity: A Three-Part Series [August 2013]

Why Netflix is Not Emmy’s Online Vanguard [July 2013]

  • Analysis of what Netflix’s House of Cards means for the place of web television at the Emmys.

Interview: Alan Sepinwall on The Revolution Was Televised [July 2013]

  • An interview with TV critic/author Alan Sepinwall regarding his monograph. [Part One, Part Two]

ESPN, Wimbledon, and the Limits of Broadcasting Equality [July 2013]

  • A consideration of gender equality in ESPN’s broadcast of the Women’s Semifinals at Wimbledon 2013.

Send in the Clones: Tatiana Maslany vs. the Emmy Awards [June 2013]

  • A breakdown of the—ultimately unsuccessful—Emmy campaign for the Orphan Black star.

All My Commodities: Valuing the Online Soap Opera [April 2013]

  • Analysis of the distribution plans for Prospect Park’s revival of All My Children and One Life To Live.

Framing a Legacy: The Office’s Diegetic Documentary [April 2013]

  • Thoughts on the role of the documentary crew and their film in the NBC series’ final season.

Kickstarting Veronica Mars: A Moment in a Movement [March 2013]

  • On understanding Kickstarting as not a procedural act but, rather, as a social experience.

One World, Two Ways In (For Some): Syfy’s Defiance [February 2013]

  • How the Syfy series’ transmedia initiative highlighted gendered realities of convergence.

Production Mythology, Release Reality: Syfy’s Defiance [January 2013]

  • How the Syfy series/game’s release schedule ties into industrial uncertainties.

Mediating the Past: Licensing History, One Game At a Time [November 2012]

  • On the Assassin’s Creed series’ licensing—and disciplining—of history as cultural capital.

The Broadcast Battleground of the 2012 Emmy Awards [September 2012]

  • How the Emmy broadcast allows networks to assert claims to quality against cable dominance.

Save “Their” Show: Public Appeals of Studio Campaigning [August 2012]

  • How production studios leverage online journalists to help revive their canceled series.

The Cheese Stands Alone: Downton Abbey’s Emmy Coup [July 2012]

  • Analysis of how PBS’ hit series benefited from a category switch from Miniseries to Drama Series.

Campaign Contributions: “Mainstreaming” the Emmy Race [July 2012]

  • How the “For Your Consideration” Emmy campaign broke out into mainstream outlets.

Upfronts 2012: “Save our Show (On the Industry’s Margins)” [May 2012]

  • On the invisibility of “Save our Show” campaigns for shows aimed at devalued audiences.

Stranded on the TV Battleground: Hulu’s Invisible Original [May 2012]

  • A discussion of the online platform’s struggle to promote their first original series, Battleground.

Imported by Justin Bieber: Carly Rae Jepsen and Transnational Stardom [April 2012]

  • How the “Call Me Maybe” singer’s Canadian past was elided in her U.S. breakout.

Specter of Legitimation: The Fading of NBC’s Thursday Legacy [January 2012]

  • Thoughts on how NBC’s past haunts its efforts to schedule its most historically successful night.

Promoting an Uncertain Future: Showrunners (on Hiatus) on Twitter IV [January 2012]

  • The fourth in a series on Showrunners on Twitter, focused on the platform as a space for fan involvement and/or activism.

A Song of Ice and Trading Cards: Licensing HBO’s Game of Thrones [November 2011]

  • How licensing the series intersects with discourses of quality and authenticity.

The Rise and Fall of @Sutterink: Showrunners [Off] Twitter III [August 2011]

  • The third in a series, covering Kurt Sutter’s decision to leave Twitter amidst growing controversy.

How the Categories Got Their Shapes: Eligibility & the Emmy Nominations [July 2011]

  • Thoughts on how Academy guidelines and limitations can result in some odd categorical confusion.

The Rhythm of a City Out of Sync: The Disrupted Spaces of Treme [May 2011]

  • A contribution to an ongoing series covering the second season of the HBO series.

Spaces of Speculation: How We Learned Osama Bin Laden Was Dead [May 2011]

  • A consideration of how different forms of media transmitted news of Bin Laden’s death.

The State of Reality TV: When in the World is Project Runway? [February 2011]

  • A look at the short and sporadic life spans of the  international versions of Project Runway.

The Gilded Globes: Legitimacy Amidst Controversy [January 2011]

  • Analysis of the controversy over Ricky Gervais’ hosting of the annual awards ceremony.

WikiLeaks “Bombshell”: The CBC is the Enemy [December 2010]

  • A look at the leaked U.S. memos revealing concern over the portrayal of Americans in Canadian programming.

Dancing with Democracy [November 2010]

  • Analysis of Bristol Palin’s run on Dancing with the Stars and reality TV’s relationship with democracy.

Late to the Party: Twin Peaks (1990-91) [November 2010]

  • Thoughts on watching the series’ pilot in the context of its cult status.

Replying with the Enemy: Showrunners on Twitter II [November 2010]

  • The second in a series, this time focusing on Dan Harmon’s public battle(s) with Twitter users.

Television and the Haunted Holiday [October 2010]

  • Thoughts on the value and form of Halloween-based episodes of television.

Tweets of Anarchy: Showrunners on Twitter [September 2010]

  • The first in a series about television showrunners and their social media engagement through Twitter.

The A.V. Club

[The following are article-length contributions I have made as a contributor at The A.V. Club, in addition to covering a number of series on a week-to-week basis. You can find all of my contributions here.]

On Hulu, the chicken enchilada comes before the egg [April 2014]

  • A “For Our Consideration” on brand-produced content by Subway and Chipotle on Hulu.

Webseries phenom The Lizzie Bennet Diaries made it to 100 Episodes (And beyond) [February 2014]

  • A 100 Episodes installment on the transmedia webseries.

The Office shows the pitfalls of fake reality becoming “real” [February 2013]

  • A “For Our Consideration” on The Office’s acknowledgement of its documentary crew.

How Fraggle Rock taught kids about society and community in 10 episodes [December 2012]

  • A TV Club 10 installment on the legacy of the Jim Henson company series.

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