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Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things.

Once upon a time, the news was only 15 minutes long and middle-class families huddled around a tiny black-and-white screen, TV dinners on their laps, awaiting weekly sitcoms that depicted an all-white world in which mom wore pearls and heels as she baked endless pies. If this seems a distant past, that's a measure of just how much TV has changed-and changed us.

Weaving together personal memoir, social and political history, and reflecting on key moments in the history of news broadcasting and prime time entertainment, Susan Bordo opens up the 75-year-old time-capsule that is TV and illustrates what a constant companion and dominant cultural force television has been, for good and for bad, in carrying us from the McCarthy hearings and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet to Mad Men, Killing Eve, and the emergence of our first reality TV president.

Object Lessons is published in partnership with an essay series in The Atlantic.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501362521
Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
Publication date: 03/11/2021
Series: Object Lessons
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 4.70(w) x 6.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Susan Bordo is Professor Emerita at the University of Kentucky, USA, where she held the Otis A. Singletary Chair in Humanities. She has published many influential books, on subjects that range from femininity, masculinity, and the body (Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture and the Body and The Male Body: A New Look at Men in Public and in Private) to Anne Boleyn (The Creation of Anne Boleyn) and, most recently, The Destruction of Hillary Clinton, a play-by-play account of the gendered double-standards and stereotypes, political forces and media culture that contributed to Clinton's loss in the 2016 election (2017), and Imagine Bernie Sanders as a Woman and Other Writing on Politics and the Media 2016-2019 (2020.) Her widely cited books and articles are considered paradigms of accessible, interdisciplinary scholarship.

Table of Contents

Preface xiv

1 Waiting for Joseph Welch 1

2 We Have Six Televisions 7

3 Growing Up in the Fifties and Sixties with Television 13

Television's Split Personality 13

Disney Made Me Diet 21

The Suburban TV Family and Its Shadow 27

Why There's No Sports in This Book 35

4 The Erosion of the Fact-Based Universe 39

Daniel Boorstin's Prescient Insight 39

Fox and the Ascendancy of "Story" over Fact 45

O. J. and DNA 49

Duct Tape under the Bed 52

Lawlessness in the Superdome 54

Hillary's Pneumonia 55

I Try (Unsuccessfully) to Tell the Story 59

5 If George Orwell Could Critique Broadcast News 65

Dying Metaphors 68

Verbal False Limbs 70

Pretentious Diction 71

Meaningless Words 73

Euphemisms and Clichés 75

Post-Orwellian Fog: Zingers and Gaffes 76

6 Intersections of TV, "Reality," and Reality 81

The Transformation of Donald Trump 81

The Real World and Real Housewives 85

The Best Feminist Moment from Seventies TV 90

What Brett Kavanaugh Learned from Clarence Thomas 98

7 TV Deconstructs Gender 103

The Raw and the Cooked 103

Tony Soprano and "College" 106

Don Draper and "Maidenform" 112

Not June Cleaver: From Ally McBeal to Killing Eve 115

Ally McBeal's "Third Wave" Feminism 117

Conventional and Subversive: Grey's Anatomy 121

Post-Trump Feminism: The Good Fight 126

Is It a Thriller? Is It a Comedy? Is It a Fashion Show? No, It's Killing Eve 135

Epilogue: July 4, 2020 141

Acknowledgments 151

Notes 153

Index 161

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