television analysis

English 1301 – Television Analysis Assignment (Essay #2 Part 1)
The Material: You have been asked to select a television show that is geared towards an audience of which you are a member. For an age range of 18-40, shows appearing on the major networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox) or networks like MTV or the CW would be most appropriate. The shows must be scripted or reality shows that center around relationships. For example, shows like Teen Mom, 16 and Pregnant, Love and Hip Hop, Real Housewives etc. would be appropriate versions of a reality show. Something along the lines of Survivor or Storage Wars would not. You may also choose from scripted shows on the regular networks, such as NCIS, Empire, Grey’s Anatomy, This is Us, Riverdale, How to Get Away with Murder, etc. Try to choose a show you can record or have the ability to watch more than once. It could even be helpful to use a show you don’t normally watch for this exercise.
Note: If you are using Netlix, Hulu, or another subscription service, please be sure that the show you have chosen is no more than two years old.
The Game Plan: You will need to do some preliminary note taking before watching the show. First, brainstorm some notes on your assumptions about the show, along with a description of the target audience. Next, watch the show. You might notice some things while you are watching and if so, take notes. Most of you will need to watch the show once to get a sense of what is happening before focusing on the analysis. After seeing the show, jot down any arguments or messages that you immediately see, both for the episode as a whole, or about the characters / situations. Then watch the show again, or a section of it, to look closer for deep analysis. Take notes on the lighting, camera angle, music, and mis-en-scene for one or two scenes in the show.
In the first section of the assignment, type up your notes on the target audience of the show and any assumptions you had about it. Include your notes on the analysis of your scene.
On a second page or in a different section, create a write up of at least one and one half pages (you will probably need more than one), which analyzes the show and addresses some of the following:

Characters      – are the characters on this show dynamic and complex or do they just      fulfill some sort of stereotype? For example, the jock, the nerd, the police officer, the drunken      frat boy, etc. Do these characters      have a real range of emotion? What      are the emotions? Are their actions      predictable?
Realism      – are the characters and situations in the show realistic? Could the events in the show happen in      real life? Do the characters eat,      drink, shower, and/or use the bathroom? Are they shown with their clothes or hair mussed? Is everything perfect or are there some      problems with timing, transportation, convenient getaways, etc.?
Attitudes      and Stereotypes – Does this show seem to present an argument      about a certain group of people? What is the racial mix of the characters on the show? Does this mean anything? Does the program show us attitudes or      beliefs held by a certain group or people in a certain region of the      country / world?
Gender      – What gender is most represented in this show? Is there an equal balance between the      characters? Are there any attitudes      about gender that come out during the show? Are characters fulfilling typical gender      roles (i.e. the women are cooking, men working on cars, etc.)?

As you consider what you want to say about the show, think of what might happen if this show were put into a time capsule to be seen at some point in the future. What would a society many years removed from ours think about American society of our time, based on what is represented in this show? What sorts of messages do we get about the show’s target audience, as well as Americans in general from this show? Does the show represent a certain profession, racial group or age group in a certain light? Is this representation accurate?
These are all things to think about as you craft your analysis. By no means are you expected to answer all of this, but a well-crafted analysis will do a nice job of touching on many of these items. Please don’t write your document as if it is a series of answers to questions that your reader doesn’t know about. Be sure the document flows well.
You MUST have this paper completed before you can work on Essay #2. If you don’t have it completed, you CANNOT earn a grade for Essay #2.

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