SEX AND THE CITY AND THE DISCOURSE OF QUALITY TELEVISION

Writing, researching

While reading Foucault's History of Sexuality in an undergraduate Modern Culture and Media seminar at Brown University, it dawned on me that it might be interesting to analyze Sex and the City through the lens of the repressive hypothesis, dismantling (or at least questioning) the assumption that the show's racy content necessarily rendered it liberating or "feminist." As I became more interested in the history of television studies, my focus shifted towards the role of Sex and the City -- and HBO's programming in general -- in the history of "quality" television.

Sex and the City and the Discourse of "Quality" Television
312kb pdf, all text © Copyright 2006 Matt LeMay

I wrote and researched my thesis during my senior year at Brown, formulating the concept of "discursive mobility" to describe how different television programs address us as different types of viewer (the TV family member, the savvy shopper, etc). In the three sections of my thesis, I describe the history of "quality television" discourses, analyze the television program Sex and the City with these discourses in mind, and discuss the cultural phenomenon of "Sex and the City" as it pertains to the history of "quality television" in the United States. Ultimately, I seek to interrogate the assertion that Sex and the City is, in the words of HBO's promo spots, "unprecedented." Instead, I suggest, Sex and the City is deeply rooted in the generic convention of TV sitcoms and "quality" television.


My thesis was awarded special honors by the Modern Culture and Media department at Brown University.


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