Category Archives: COMM1073


I came into TV Cultures knowing 2 things: I like TV, I like culture.
I have come out knowing more than 2 things (luckily).

Taking this class was both a leap of faith and motivated by my interest in the interactions of society and culture with television. Through discussing shows, contextualising theories and information, and by logging my television viewings, I am have been able to reflect on my own viewing habits and the type of audience member I am.

Instantly, I can tell you know that I am a commentator, analysing the conventions of the television show, the storyline and everything in between. My mother has likened me to Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets.
But guess how I can get away with this without the person watching with me missing the story? ON DEMAND/SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES!
I am an audience member who very much relies on the post-broadcast television viewing methods in order to watch television. This post-broadcast era, or ‘post-network era’ as Aymar Jean Christian, author of ‘The Web Reimagined? Online Networks and the Pursuit of Legacy Media’ identifies, ‘marked a transition from mass audiences and source programming to niche audiences and available programming’. As a television audience member, I heavily rely on such subscription and on demand television services that have arisen from this era, and it is quite evident when assessing trends in my television viewing time log. 21 of my 29 entries were viewed on Netflix- that’s a whopping 72%. These subscription services allow me to be considered as one of the members of a narrow casted audience, a smaller group of whom the select form of media is targeted at, determined by demographic or preferences, as I am one of a smaller number of people who choose or have a preference to pay for these services.

This post-broadcast era in which I am heavily a part of has many benefits. The on-demand medium, according to Amanda Lotz allows viewers to ‘begin experimenting with new ways of viewing television’ and for me, these new ways suit my busy schedule, allowing me to watch my favourite shows in my nightly leisure time- my log indicates is approximately 93% of the entries were night-time viewings.
Ultimately, I can schedule my viewings around my daily activities and thanks to their portability (Netflix app on my ipad and website for my computer) and I can indulge in what I call ‘Don Draper Watch’ (Mad Men viewings) anywhere and at anytime.

Whilst these subscription services are great in the fact that they allow me to watch a show at any time I like, sometimes, ‘spoilers’ are spread through my social media accounts (or at lectures *cough GLEN cough*) and can ultimately ruin critical moments of the show, even before I have started watching the episode, season or even the series.
On the other hand, these spoilers can gain interest, and the conversations surrounding the storyline of such programs can create interest, just like the interest I gained from the Mad Men lecture. I guess we could also analyse this scenario as an example of the ‘water-cooler’ effect. This occurs when a show is talked about among many people, ultimately influencing others to gain interest, which is what I guess you could label my Mad Men reviews given to customers at work as- 5 stars for Jon Hamm!

Anyway, I will acknowledge that whilst the post-broadcast era may not have shifted the viewing practices of all, I personally have definitely felt that this new, digitalised way of viewing TV is for me- a member of a narrow audience who indulge in television, fitting in their viewings around their on schedule via their on demand services.
I have been able to contextualise my viewing habits, appreciate the construction of shows and the platforms and interactions they provide, whilst also appreciating Netflix in a whole new way.
Taking this class, initially was a ‘leap of educational faith’ for me- as film based studies were my comfort zone. But I am now a Mad Men addict who is water-cooler-ing -enticing not only my family and friends, but customers and randoms on the street- DON DRAPER I LOVE YOU!


Christian, A. J. (2012). The Web as Television Reimagined? Online Networks and the Pursuit of Legacy Media. Journal of Communication Inquiry, 36(4), 340-356.

Lotz, A. D. (2009). Beyond prime time. Television Programming in the Post-Network Era. New York.

SM Inpulse (2012). ‘What is Narrowcasting?”. Social Media Impulse. Available at:



Quality can be defined as the standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something. Ever since I can remember, just as I put on a TV show that I want to watch, my father would walk in and say “India, can we please watch some Quality TV?!”. This phrase of his always had me wondering what Quality TV actually was and how it was categorised. Janet McCabe and Kim Akass, authors of Quality TV: Contemporary American Television & Beyond’, provide some insight into this, stating that Quality TV ‘is a descriptive term that identifies the genre ‘Quality Drama’. But let’s explore possible factors that may contribute to the categorisation of a show as a ‘quality’ television program.

We could look at the audience of such ‘quality’ programs to categorise ‘Quality TV’, analysing their interactions with television and their methods of viewing.
HBO is an American cable channel described as one that screens and produces Quality TV. The tagline “It’s not TV, It’s HBO’ is indicative of its qualitative nature, not only due to the programs and their careful construction, but also thanks to its exclusivity as it is subscription only. In 2014, it was said that HBO had an approximate 114 million subscribers/members. This number may seem large, but HBO are still considered to have a small number of subscribers and viewers. As the channel is a subscription and involves monetary costs in exchange for program viewing, HBO are thought to attract what McCabe and Akass describe as the ‘Upscale Demographic’, those who can afford to afford such services. But how can we explain this demographic? These individuals may be of the upper class, meaning they may be more educated and have the ability to follow the complex serial narratives carried through a large number of HBO programs, such as Game of Thrones. Pierre Bordieu in his work on cultural capital explores the notion that there is a ‘powerful relationship between level of education and cultural practice’, discussing the attempt of this upper class to control culture for their own interest, ultimately controlling and impacting the circulation of money in such culture. Not do this demographic inadvertently ‘fund’ such ‘Quality TV’ but they may in fact be responsible for programs being considered as ‘Quality TV’, as they formulate the audience who are competent in following the complex narratives, due to their educated background.

Another factor that may contribute to a show’s ‘quality’ categorisation may be its conventions and aesthetics. Christina Lane, in her essay on The West Wing, identifies a few features of the show that indicate its qualitative nature, such as complex narrative, the pace of the show and its episodes, the ensemble casing and mobile camera work. May these conventions be a method of categorising ‘Quality TV’? Game of Thrones, a show classified as Quality TV has a complex narrative, based on a series of fantasy books written by George R.R. Martin and an ensemble cast which consists of Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington…. um er and other people (excuse me, I instantly got all daydreamy.. ah Jon Snow…).
These conventions that are contributed to the classification of a ‘Quality TV’ show may also be due to the shows budget. Each Game of Thrones episode has a budget of a whopping $6 million, which explaines is around 2-3 times the budget of a regular TV show (cable or network). This interrelates with my above example of HBO as a subscription service and Pierre Bordieu’s work- subscribers pay to watch the show, but their money pretty much contributes to the budgets of its productions.

So we can define the word ‘quality’, but whilst it may be difficult to create a set definition for ‘Quality TV’, these programs may be put into this prestigious category based on their critical reception, audience, production methods and conventions, some or a combination of all factors.
I’m not sure that my father uses the term Quality TV with full knowledge of its meaning, but I guess now it’s my job to share with him a few of the contributing factors to the categorisation of such programs.


Bachman, Justin (2014) ‘HBO Finally Reveals Profit Numbers. Take That, Netflix’. Bloomberg. Available at:

Bordieu, Pierre. Referenced in Fiske, J. (2002). Television culture. Routledge.

Bourdieu, Pierre (1984) Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press. pp. 170, 466.

Lane, Christina (2003) ‘The White House Culture of Gender and Race in The West Wing: Insights from the Margins’, mentioned in Peter C. Rollins and Jon E.Conner, The West Wing:American Presidency as Television Drama. Syracause University.

McCabe, Janet, & Akass, Kim. (2007). Quality TV Contemporary American Television and Beyond. London: I.B.Tauris.

Sheppard, Elena (2014). ‘Here’s How Much It Costs to Make a ‘Game of Thrones’ Episode’. Available at:


Mad Men, a series about the New York Ad Men of the 1960s, is much more than just a period drama and my favourite television show. It is a culturally influencing show that not only stood as mark for the shift of a cable channel, but an artefact of popular culture that has immersed its audience in the periodic qualities and values of the 60s.

American Movie Classics was a channel that originally placed a focus on classic movies that were dated before the 1950s, with an intention of maintaining the integrity of cinema work from the past. In 2002, the channel was rebranded, and as a result broadened its schedule to a range of films from various eras. In 2007, the channel debuted Mad Men, its first original drama series, written by Matthew Weiner. Set in the 1960’s, the show depicts the lives of the Advertising Executives from Sterling Cooper. The show stands in the period drama genre, one that encapsulates certain qualities, values, settings and behaviours of a certain time, providing a nostalgic or somewhat educational experience for its viewers, engulfing them in the period of the 1960’s.

In particular, Mad Men focusses on the style, values, politics and qualities of the 60s with an emphasis on those which were heavily prevalent in the lives of the adults of the era. The show allows its audience to reimagine the era from the comfort of their chosen viewing settings. We are able to analyse and ‘reimagine’ the stylistic and behavioural representation of this era by analysing the mise-en-scene of first episode of the show, entitled ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’, particularly the scene where Joan is showing Peggy to her place in the office. We are presented with the casting of Christina Hendricks as Joan Holloway with her classic 60s hourglass silhouette, waltzing through the hall to the muted colour palettes of the advertising office setting and typewriter props gracing desks, representative of the technology of the period. The style and behaviours likened to this time are not only communicated visually, but also through the dialogue.
This idea is further exemplified through the diegetic dialogue which expresses the objectification and status of women in the workplace. Joan hints to Peggy that
‘a girl like you with those darling little ankles, I’d find a way to make them sing’, ultimately hinting that Peggy should somewhat objectify herself to attract the attention of the men, as an implied tip to help her in the workplace.

Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 8.57.55 pm

Mad Men’s influence on its audience goes much further than involving its members in the nostalgic world of the 60s. With the premiere of Mad Men on July 19th 2007 clocking 1.65 million viewers, and its finale reaching 3.29 viewers, the show must be having some sort of cultural impact on them too, right?

From Fashion to Children’s TV, Mad Men, with its attention to the 1960 detail is somewhat influencing the pop culture of today. Daniel Mendelsohn, author of “The Mad Men Account’, explores the notion of the show’s influence, discussing that Mad Men has ‘percolated into every corner of popular culture’. He explains that in America, clothing label Banana Republic collaborated with the show’s creators to design a shop window campaign and style guide that assisted its customers in achieving the ‘Mad Men’ look.
But it goes a little deeper than that. An article sourced from The Daily Telegraph notes that it is believed that the hourglass figured, busty women on the show, such as Joan Holloway, portrayed by Christina Hendricks, may be the reason for the 10% spike in breast augmentation surgeries in Britain in 2010.
And in 2013, it was reported that the sales of cigarettes produced by the brand ‘Lucky Strike’ jumped from 23 billion in 2007 to 33 billion as of 2012, which was believed to be due to its reference in the show.
On a personal note: I actually went out lipstick shopping after watching the episode where the ladies of the office are asked to test out the Belle Jolie lipstick range.

Mad Men is not only a representation of the change of a cable channel’s direction, or an example of a period drama, but is a show that has become a cultural phenomenon in terms of its influence upon its audience and the society in which it functions. Even after the shows completion in May 2015, many companies are reaping the benefits of its influence on the culture of today and the trend in 60s style of which has resulted.


Becker, Anne (August 10, 2007). “Not A Hot Cable Summer for All”. Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved April 18, 2015.

Kondolojy, Amanda (May 19, 2015). “Sunday Cable Ratings: ‘Game of Thrones’ Tops Night + ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’, ‘Mad Men’ & More”. TV by the Numbers. Retrieved May 19, 2015

Mendelsohn, D. (2011). The mad men account. The New York Review of Books, 24.

Pow, Helen (2013). ‘Mad Men sparks cigarette sales boom for Lucky Strike with 10 BILLION more packs sold last year compared to when series first aired’. Daily Mail Online.
Available at:

“I challenge you to a sche-duel!”

Post 2 for Television Cultures

Television scheduling was once something that was influenced by society, then became an influencer of society. But now, that whole ‘plan of procedure which contains reference to the time that is allocated for each event’ also known as the TV schedule is being influenced by the increase in popularity and abundance of on demand services.

Scholars Jiyoung Cha and Sylvia M. Chan-Olmsted have said that online streaming systems that ‘enable users to watch and distribute video content seem to have finally entered a rapid stage of growth in the United States’. And it is evident, through the advertisements for and introduction of more on demand services in Australia, that the popularity of online streaming and on demand services is growing here too.

I remember as a child, watching my Grandmother choosing the programs she wanted to watch for the week- with a highlighter in one hand, the TV guide in the other.
I used to try and do the same in my TV guide, then my highlighter turned into a remote that controlled my Foxtel IQ where I could record my programs and set reminders for programs I wanted to watch. But now, there is no remote or highlighter- there is something called an on demand service, proudly brought to us by the process of digitisation
The process of digitisation can be defined as converting existing material into an electronic format. Digitisation is altering the television and the broadcast experience; not only making it easier for us to weave our viewing practices into our busy, on-the-go lives but also allowing companies to increase their revenue by becoming multiplatform- creating digitised versions of their pre-existing services. Many companies have identified this trend in the want for programs on demand.
Foxtel was once a cable company who provided a satellite service to subscribers, allowing them to access hundreds of channels at the click of a remote. Shows that were once exclusive to America, such as Dance Moms, have become available to Australian viewers.
But the process of digitisation and the trend of online TV watching has lead to a rise in the popularity of other online on demand subscription services. Foxtel has introduced an online version of their service to their subscribers -Foxtel GO. The service allows for subscribers to view the programs they know and love from Foxtel online or via a mobile app for viewing when, where and however they like- allowing individuals to schedule their viewing practices around their pre-existing daily activities. I can now watch Dance Moms as a way to fill in time on my 5.30 train home via the Foxtel GO app on my iPad- winning! Digitisation has lead to a rise in the popularity of other online on demand subscription services. Stan was created to be an Australian version of Netflix, and now Netflix has become available to Australian viewers due to popular demand.

As the process of digitisation continues to occur who knows how on demand and online subscription services will transform- Television might even become a dominantly online concept- maybe when we drive hover cars but always. But whilst this process of digitisation continues, I shall open my Foxtel GO app and catch up on the programs I have been eager to watch during the time I’ve been blogging.

Cha, J., & Chan-Olmsted, S. M. (2012). Substitutability between online video platforms and television. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 89(2), 261-278.

Which News is The News?

Post 1 for Television Cultures

The News was once a name for a genre of informative broadcasts that communicated global and local headlines to its audience in a predictable, formal and somewhat templated manner. But the application of this term ‘The News’ is starting to be blurred due to what could be explained as audiences growing tired of the repetitive delivery of the negative headlines. Ultimately, this has resulted in a growing number alternative News broadcast services, such as satirical news programs.

The genre of ‘satirical news’ encompasses the use of sarcasm and irony in response to and to communicate headlines from around the globe for informative and entertainment purposes.
No longer do audiences seek for their headlines to be solely communicated by a middle aged, slightly plump suited man, sitting at a desk with a mug of what must be terribly cold black coffee who reads his words from a teleprompter with no added personal opinion.
Shows such as Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, The Daily Show and The Weekly with Charlie Pickering are providing audiences with the opportunity to receive and interact with a new type of news- one that takes a lighter approach at recapping the headlines, whilst continuing on with a stereotypical news vibe by mimicking the aesthetics of a typical news broadcast. These shows may be considered, by their elements or on a whole, as an alternative news service or as scholars
Chris Peters and Marcel Jeroen have named them- ‘hybridised media formats” due to their incorporation of different genres, uses and platforms.

Whilst these shows may take on the stereotypical visual aspects of the news, maybe except for the plump, middle-aged man bit, they are different in many other respects.
These shows are broadcast in a different way and at a different time to the general ‘real’ news broadcast. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is not screened on free to air TV- it is a show that in Australia is exclusive to The Comedy Channel and generally at 6.30pm, a whole hour after the stereotypical time-slot for a general news broadcast. But this delivery of ‘the news’ is also available on demand via services such as Foxtel GO AND certain extracts of the show that encompass highlights from his delivery of the news can be viewed on Youtube for free viewing- anytime, anywhere, any way.
Due to the multi-platform of these programs, and their ability to be scheduled around ones day, programs such as Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, for instance, have more of an active audience- an audience where members attentively choose the programs in which they view based on their likes, as well as ‘actively’ interpreting the messages conveyed through the media.
This audience includes not just the subscribers of Foxtel or fans that interact with the content available on Youtube, but those who seek a lighter approach to the way they receive their headlines and actively pursuit a TV show which provides this.

Not only has the satirical news show changed the classification of news programs, but it highlights the audience’s growing need for a fresh, new take on the way they receive their news- how it is delivered, how it is received and how it is viewed.

Peters, Chris, Marcel Jeroen Broersma (2013). Rethinking Journalism : Trust and Participation In a Transformed News Landscape. New York, NY: Routledge