A poetic narrative of technology's strongest mode of storytelling: the television.
Over the past two decades, new technologies, changing viewer practices, and the proliferation of genres and channels has transformed American television. One of the most notable impacts of these shifts is the emergence of highly complex and elaborate forms of serial narrative, resulting in a robust period of formal experimentation and risky programming rarely seen in a medium that is typically viewed as formulaic and convention bound.
Complex TV offers a sustained analysis of the poetics of television narrative, focusing on how storytelling has changed in recent years and how viewers make sense of these innovations. Through close analyses of key programs, including The Wire, Lost, Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, Veronica Mars, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Mad Men the book traces the emergence of this narrative mode, focusing on issues such as viewer comprehension, transmedia storytelling, serial authorship, character change, and cultural evaluation. Developing a television-specific set of narrative theories, Complex TV argues that television is the most vital and important storytelling medium of our time.
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1. Complexity in Context 17
2. Beginnings 55
3. Authorship 86
4. Characters 118
5. Comprehension 164
6. Evaluation 206
7. Serial Melodrama 233
8. Orienting Paratexts 261
9. Transmedia Storytelling 292
10. Ends 319
About the Author 391
"Complex TVis one of the most exciting books I have ever read.Each chapter contains useful and well-defined terms to put to work in formal analysis, and every argument is backed up with lively, detailed, and entertaining readings of familiar TV texts.The result is a rich and thorough piece of scholarship that will do for television studies what David Bordwells historical poetics has famously done for film." ~Robyn Warhol,co-editor of Narrative Theory Unbound: Queer and Feminist Interventions
"A lucid and provocative exploration of modern television, from the inside out." ~Emily Nussbaum,television critic at the New Yorker
"Mittell cleverly explores Complex TV on its own terms, favouring a formal analysis investigating the poetics of television series over discussing their cultural impact or interpretation of content. Looking at how television tells stories Mittell shows the contribution of technology, reception, and industry in changing television into a & lived cultural experience where different forms of & cultural engagement, are key to understanding the textuality of Complex TV." ~European Journal of Media Studies
"Mittels compelling arguments about topics such as anti-heroes and melodrama help us see the bigger picture when it comes to the small screen." ~Seven Days