Genre and Television: From Cop Shows to Cartoons in American Culture, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Genre and Television

From Cop Shows to Cartoons in American Culture, 1st Edition

By Jason Mittell


256 pages

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Genre and Television proposes a new understanding of television genres as cultural categories, offering a set of in-depth historical and critical examinations to explore five key aspects of television genre: history, industry, audience, text, and genre mixing. Drawing on well-known television programs from Dragnet to The Simpsons, this book provides a new model of genre historiography and illustrates how genres are at work within nearly every facet of television-from policy decisions to production techniques to audience practices. Ultimately, the book argues that through analyzing how television genre operates as a cultural practice, we can better comprehend how television actively shapes our social world.


"Mittell makes a strong case for a return to genre theory, history, and criticism within television studies as a means of understanding the production, distribution, and reception of television programs. Each of the case studies is compelling in its own terms, offering a deep picture of important trends in the history of American television." -- Henry Jenkins, MIT

"Genre and Television is an insightful, original, and well researched book and makes a significant and timely contribution to television studies." -- Annette Hill, University of Westminster, UK

"Jason Mittell re-energizes the field of genre study with this intriguing analysis of American television. From talk shows to cop shows to reality TV, Mittell eloquently demonstrates why genre still matters to TV creators, critics, and fans. Rigorously researched and theoretically-informed, Genre and Television makes a vital contribution to the field of cultural studies." -- Michael Curtin, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"Genres emerge from a dialectic of orthodoxy versus innovation, as the culture industries strive to blend predictability with surprise. By transcending the normal science of textual analysis and considering genres as industrial categories, Jason Mittell has done students of US television a considerable service." -- Toby Miller, Television & New Media

Table of Contents

Introduction: Genres that Matter

1. Television Genres as Cultural Categories

2. Before the Scandals: Genre Historiography and the Cultural History of the Quiz Show

3. From Saturday Morning to Around the Clock: The Industrial Practices of Television Cartoons

4. Audiences Talk Genres: Talk Shows and the Intersections of Taste and Identity

5. Policing Genres: Dragnet's Texts and Generic Contexts

6. Making Fun of Genres-The Politics of Parody and Genre Mixing in Soap and The Simpsons

Conclusion: Some Reflections on Reality Television




About the Author

Jason Mittell is Assistant Professor of of American Civilization and Film and Media Culture at Middlebury College. He has published essays in Cinema Journal, The Velvet Light Trap, Television and New Media, Film History, Journal of Popular Film and Television, and several anthologies. He lives in Middlebury, Vermont.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PERFORMING ARTS / Television / History & Criticism
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies