Book Review: How To Watch Television

How To Watch Television is a book compiled of a series of essays about various TV shows.  Each essay is for a different TV show by a different author and focuses on different aspects of the TV shows such as character development.  I found that I was much more interested in the essays of shows I was familiar with versus the shows I had never seen or heard of before.  If you have a love of television, this should be an interesting read.  The book does focus mainly on American TV shows as well so if you are not from America you may not know many of the shows.

This book is geared towards discussion as well and would work best if reading in a group or in a classroom situation.  I read it by myself and now have no one to discuss things with except here, and I don’t quite feel like dishing it all out (maybe someday?)  The end of each essay has a notes section with extra information about what was written in the essay as well as further reading in case you are using this book as a reference piece.

All genres seem to be represented – from UK shows who were reworked for the US, Children’s shows, Dramas, Comedies, etc.

I received a free e-copy of this book from the publisher in order to write this review I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

We all have opinions about the television shows we watch, but television criticism is about much more than simply evaluating the merits of a particular show and deeming it ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Rather, criticism uses the close examination of a television program to explore that program’s cultural significance, creative strategies, and its place in a broader social context.
            
How to Watch Television brings together forty original essays from today’s leading scholars on television culture, writing about the programs they care (and think) the most about. Each essay focuses on a particular television show, demonstrating one way to read the program and, through it, our media culture. The essays model how to practice media criticism in accessible language, providing critical insights through analysis—suggesting a way of looking at TV that students and interested viewers might emulate. The contributors discuss a wide range of television programs past and present, covering many formats and genres, spanning fiction and non-fiction, broadcast and cable, providing a broad representation of the programs that are likely to be covered in a media studies course. While the book primarily focuses on American television, important programs with international origins and transnational circulation are also covered.

Addressing television series from the medium’s earliest days to contemporary online transformations of television, How to Watch Television is designed to engender classroom discussion among television critics of all backgrounds.

Ethan Thompson is Associate Professor at Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi. He is the author of Parody and Taste in Postwar American Television Culture, and co-editor of Satire TV: Politics and Comedy in the Post-Network Era.

Jason Mittell is Associate Professor of Film & Media Culture and American Studies at Middlebury College. He is the author of Genre and Television: From Cop Shows to Cartoons in American Culture,Television and American Culture, and Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling (New York University Press, forthcoming).

Category: Book Review
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