Ryan Murphy's Queer America
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Ryan Murphy is a self-described "gay boy from Indiana," who has grown up to forge a media empire. With an extraordinary list of credits and successful television shows, movies, and documentaries to his name, Murphy can now boast one of the broadest and most successful careers in Hollywood. Serving as writer, producer, and director, his creative output includes limited-run dramas (such as Feud, Ratched, and Halston), procedural dramas (such as 9-1-1 and 9-1-1 Lonestar), anthology series (such as American Crime Story, American Horror Story, and American Horror Stories), sit-coms (such as The New Normal) and long-running serial narratives (such as Glee, Nip/Tuck, and Pose). Each of these is infused in different ways with a distinctive form of queer energy and erotics, animating their narratives with both campy excess and poignant longing and giving new meaning to the American story.
This collection takes up Murphy as auteur and showrunner, considering the gendered and sexual politics of Murphy’s wide body of work. Using an intersectional framework throughout, an impressive list of well-known and emerging scholars engages with Murphy’s diverse output, while also making the case for Murphy’s version of a queer sensibility, a revised notion of queer time, cultural memory, and the contributions his own production company makes to a politics of LGBTQ+ representation and evolving gender identities.
This book is suitable for students of Gender and Media, LGBTQ+ Studies, Media Studies, and Communication Studies.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Touching Queerness: Ryan Murphy’s Queer America
Brenda R. Weber and David Greven
Part I: Queer Sensibilities
1. "Posing Normality? The Televisual and the Queer, The New Normal and Pose"
2. "You’re Sexual, Right?": Ryan Murphy and the Eroticization of Straight Masculinity
3. Hagsploitation: or the Queer Sublimity of Feud: Bette and Joan
4. "American Twink Story"
Part II: What Was, Is, and Might Be
5. Remediating the 90s with Ryan Murphy: Gender, Race and (Inter)Generational Cultural Politics in The People Vs. OJ Simpson
6. What if Golden Age Hollywood had been Inclusive?: Ryan Murphy’s Hollywood as Queer Utopian Uchronia
Kevin Drif & Georges-Claude Guilbert
7. The Weight of Queer Emptiness: The Politician and Twenty-First Century Queerness
8. "Rescuing Paternity: Masculinity, The Child, and Queer Futurity in 9-1-1"
9. Into the Gleetocracy: The Contours and Contradictions of a Queered American Dream
Brenda R. Weber and Lee Yun Sok Weeks, Jr.
Part III: Remembering Those Lost: HIV/AIDS and Cultural Memory
10. "Normal?: The Normal Heart in Abnormal Times"
11. "‘I Always Knew I Wasn't Gonna Be Long on This Earth,’ Pose and the AIDS Crisis"
12. Memorial Acts: Remembering Mart Crowley and The Boys in the Band
Part IV: Ryan Murphy Productions
13. The End of "Best Actor" Discourse?: Pose and the Queer of Color Politics of Casting Trans Roles
Alfred L. Martin, Jr.
14. Fused Muse: Sarah Paulson as Ryan Murphy’s Partner in (American) Crime
15. "Showrunning Activism: Embodying Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Work of Ryan Murphy"
Sarah E. S. Sinwell
Brenda R. Weber is Provost Professor and Jean C. Robinson Scholar in the Department of Gender Studies at Indiana University
David Greven is Professor of English at the University of South Carolina
"A terrific assortment of essays on marquee producer Ryan Murphy’s vast body of work, Ryan Murphy’s Queer America, critically explores his signature queer baroque aesthetic and contributions to LGBTQ+ self-representation. Television, queer studies, and feminist scholars reflect on the queer erotics, historical reconsiderations, and production culture of Murphy’s influential canon. This enjoyable and illuminating collection is sure to have wide student appeal."
Isabel C. Pinedo, Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies, Hunter College, CUNY, and author of Difficult Women on Television Drama: The Gender Politics of Complex Women in Serial Narratives
"Some of us can remember when the notion that an openly queer artist could be among the most prominent, central creators of mainstream American popular culture was simply unthinkable. This dazzlingly smart anthology addresses the unprecedented rise to ubiquity of Ryan Murphy and his vast output across media, with a necessary balance of enthusiastic admiration and serious reservation. Love him or hate him, Murphy’s impact can’t be ignored, and his work brings out the best in this impressive collection of scholars."
Corey K. Creekmur, Associate Professor of English, University of Iowa