It's Not TV: Watching HBO in the Post-Television Era

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Since first going on the air in 1972, HBO has continually attempted to redefine television as we know it. Today, pay television (and HBO in particular) is positioned as an alternative to network offerings, consistently regarded as the premier site for what has come to be called "quality television."

This collection of new essays by an international group of media scholars argues that HBO, as part of the leading edge of television, is at the center of television studies' interests in market positioning, style, content, technology, and political economy. The contributors focus on pioneering areas of analysis and new critical approaches in television studies today, highlighting unique aspects of the "HBO effect" to explore new perspectives on contemporary television from radical changes in technology to dramatic shifts in viewing habits.

It's Not TV provides fresh insights into the "post-television network" by examining HBO's phenomenally popular and pioneering shows, including The Sopranos, The Wire, Six Feet Under, Sex and the City as well as its failed series, such as K Street and The Comeback. The contributors also explore the production process itself and the creation of a brand commodity, along with HBO's place as a market leader and technological innovator.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The ultimate question of this varied collection is not whether HBO is TV, but whether television today is the same as it once was: has TV not changed to take account of new forms of leisure, new social and sexual mores, new modes of electronic entertainment and so on? With verve, the authors approach the HBO phenomenon from multiple perspectives to make clear its important role in a new, complex media landscape."—Dana Polan, Professor of Cinema Studies, NYU, and author of The Sopranos

"If HBO represents the apogee of post-network programming, the essays collected here represent the new wave in television studies. Cutting through HBO's self-promotional hype, the authors closely examine industrial and economic issues, while also discussing specific programs and audience responses. This extremely informative book is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the key issues in today's TV industry."—Heather Hendershot, author of Shaking the World for Jesus and editor of Nickelodeon Nation

"The editors have carefully assembled an in-depth investigation unlike any before, and are to be saluted for the breadth and depth of this important work. HBO has redefined modern television, and this book, has in its own way, helped to redefine the way we look at HBO."—Brian Cogan, Molloy College

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415960373
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 4/14/2008
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Marc Leverette is Assistant Professor of Media Studies at Colorado State University. He is author of Professional Wrestling, the Myth, the Mat, and American Popular Culture and co-editor of Zombie Culture: Autopsies of the Living Dead and Oh My God, They Deconstructed South Park! Those Bastards!

Brian L. Ott is Associate Professor of Media Studies at Colorado State University. He is author of The Small Screen: How Television Equips Us to Live in the Information Age.

Cara Louise Buckley is Lecturer at Emerson College.

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Table of Contents

Foreword: It's television. It's HBO   Toby Miller     ix
Introduction     1
Industry and economics     11
Introduction: The not TV industry   Marc Leverette     13
Para-television and discourses of distinction: The culture of production at HBO   Avi Santo     19
And now no word from our sponsor: How HBO puts the risk back into television   Tony Kelso     46
Will Yingshuiji buzz help HBO Asia?   Shawn McIntosh     65
It's not TV, it's HBO's original programming: Producing quality TV   Janet McCabe   Kim Akass     83
Texts and contexts     95
Introduction: The not TV text   Brian L. Ott     97
Carnivale: TV drama without TV genre   David Marc     101
Challenging sitcom conventions: From The Larry Sanders Show to The Comeback   Lisa Williamson     108
"Cocksucker, Motherfucker, Tits"   Marc Leverette     123
Baltimore on The Wire: The tragic moralism of David Simon   Blake D. Ethridge     152
Audiences and identity     165
Introduction: The not TV audience   Cara Louise Buckley     167
K Street: "Raping HBO" or "What HBO is All About"?   ConorMcGrath     171
Praise you like I should: Cyberfans and Six Feet Under   Rhiannon Bury     190
Fashion(able/ing) selves: Consumption, identity, and Sex and the City   Cara Louise Buckley   Brian L. Ott     209
"No country for the infirm": Angels in an unchanged America   Joanna L. Di Mattia     227
Contributors     248
Index     253
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