As you may know Netflix’s first original series that matters (did anyone even watch Lilyhammer?) has come out and it’s kind of a big deal. But for whatever reason no one I’ve talked to in person is treating it as such. Even my professors who are paid to teach about the media industry have barely brought it up, and consequently the students don’t seem to really think about why this matters. Yes, it has been briefly mentioned that Netflix is doing original content, but that isn’t what matters here. What does is the fact that they’ve released the entire season in one big drop. This model makes sense theoretically since Netflix is popular for binge watching, but as the show’s first-run this is something both revolutionary and completely problematic. It’s a move that could change the industry as we know it.
Reflecting back on the final events that end the mid-season break of Breaking Bad’s fifth season it occured to me that the AMC series is essentially the television equivalent of the sociology study known as strain theory. Everybody’s favorite meth cooker Walter White begins the show as little more than your average joe. He’s forty years-old, belongs to a lower-middle income class, teaches chemistry at a high school, and works a second job at car wash. His life is boring, average, and at this point, uneventful. But when Walter learns he has lung cancer he realizes that the way his life is going he’s going to leave nothing behind for his family and die a failure of the American dream he once saw in his grasps. It is then he decides it’s time to stop conforming to society and instead start innovating, even if that means breaking bad in the process. Average American Walter White begins cooking meth and starts his transformation into drug lord known as Heisenberg.
In the 1980s a monumental movement took place within the realm of feminist studies when the idea of post-structuralist feminism was created. Post-structuralist feminism is based upon the principal that we as a society must look closer at the language order that teaches us to be what culture labels as “women.” It is only through viewing the cultural constructions that constitute women as different from men that beneficial change can be brought about to women. Unlike previous feminist theories, post-structuralism doesn’t believe that the difference between genders is biological, but rather that it is cultural. Society has created definitions for what is man and what is women, not our metaphysical bodies as the other feminist theories believe. This classifies post-structuralism as a form of non-essentialist feminism. They believe that everything that defines a women as a women is purely cultural. There is no essential femininity behind this social construction. Post-structuralists aim to look carefully at the relationship between a given gender identity and the patriarchal order that rules society. They want to analyze the ways through which sexuality and subjectivity are created concurrently.
This piece is less of a review or critic; it’s more of a brief look into what I love about Louie and what Louis C.K. has done with the role of a showrunner. In the spirit of the show I didn’t preplan extensively what I was going to write and instead just put down whatever came into my head.
I love Louie for reasons I dislike many sitcoms. It has no standard structure, no clear rules within the show’s universe, and an inconstant cast (many of which are reasons why Glee is such a mess). And yet it uses all this qualities, which would normally be considered flaws and turns them into great assets. With each episode of Louie you never know what you’re going to get. One episode is almost entirely a flashback, another is a few laughs somber drama, and others can be just purely funny. Community may play around with structure and the conventions of a sitcom, but Louie challenges the notion of what it means to be called a half hour comedy. Sometimes a plot covers a whole episode, others may take up only a third, and then the episode plays out as a series of short films.
With the 2010-2011 television series having officially ended last week most shows are now on break till the season starts back up again in September. While there are a handful of good summer series that you should be watching (FX’s Louie, AMC’s Breaking Bad) I thought I’d put together a list of three dramas and three comedies I’d recommend watching this summer to keep your TV busy during a season that tends to be a scripted series drought. I’ll personally be catching up on HBO’s The Wire and hopefully Deadwood, along with rewatching LOST with my girlfriend. I’ll be writing about those shows periodically throughout the summer and maybe a few more if I finish those quickly, but till then here’s what I recommend you should be catching up on.
NOTE: This is an essay I wrote for my World Since 1914 course, which had me write a paper on anything dealing with well the world since 1914. Naturally I picked Mad Men as my topic and decided to discuss how the series reflects the changing times of the 1960s.
Cigarettes, sex, and advertising. Typically these are not the thoughts that come to mind when the 1960s are brought up, yet in recent years they’ve become defining terms. This way of thinking is largely due to the phenomena that AMC’s flagship series Mad Men has become. Premiering in 2007, the series focuses on the lives of middle to upper class advertising agents throughout the ‘60s. On the surface the show’s time period exists to give the series a glamorous set design; an excuse to have the men in tailored suits and women in elegant dresses. Yet the show’s time period does so much more then just add stunning visuals, rather it defines the entire series. Mad Men plays out as an intellectual study of people’s lives in the 1960s as they attempt to survive and adapt to America’s radical social and cultural revolutions. Continue reading