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Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling

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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 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. � Browse a gallery of supplemental video clips on the Complex TV website. � Visit the book's Facebook page.


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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 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. � Browse a gallery of supplemental video clips on the Complex TV website. � Visit the book's Facebook page.

56 review for Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paolo del ventoso Est

    Undici mesi di lettura e vabbè, ma il mio ritmo lento ha dei vantaggi eh. Dunque diciamo innanzitutto che io con le serie TV ho un rapporto ondivago e soffro della sindrome da terza stagione, nel senso che le serie lunghe e lunghissime non riesco a digerirle neanche se sono di livello eccellente. Tuttavia non mi sogno di disconoscere l'enorme valore che ha raggiunto negli ultimi anni l'evoluzione dei telefilm; l'attuale Serie TV per come la conosciamo è un format talmente denso dal punto di vist Undici mesi di lettura e vabbè, ma il mio ritmo lento ha dei vantaggi eh. Dunque diciamo innanzitutto che io con le serie TV ho un rapporto ondivago e soffro della sindrome da terza stagione, nel senso che le serie lunghe e lunghissime non riesco a digerirle neanche se sono di livello eccellente. Tuttavia non mi sogno di disconoscere l'enorme valore che ha raggiunto negli ultimi anni l'evoluzione dei telefilm; l'attuale Serie TV per come la conosciamo è un format talmente denso dal punto di vista dello story-telling che il buon Mittell ha giustamente provveduto a darne una buona definizione: TV complessa. Sì, perchè continuare a parlare di "TV di qualità" non aveva molto senso, dato che non tutti i prodotti ovviamente riescono col buco. Mittell è uno che proviene dall'accademia ma anche da quel mostruoso prodotto online che era Lostpedia, il paratesto orientativo per eccellenza; uno cioè che ha imparato a conoscere le serie da tutti i punti di vista, senza fare lo schizzinoso con il fandom. La sua possente analisi parte dall'esame di un buon campionario di serie, per lo più famose come appunto Lost, The Wire, Breaking Bad, Man Men, ma anche quelle meno titolate (è riuscito a accendere la mia estrema curiosità nei confronti di Veronica Mars, citatissima, che non avevo mai preso in considerazione); queste vengono analizzate per lo più senza spoiler - e dove ce ne sono il lettore viene avvisato - guardando al lato produttivo (c'è un interessante capitolo sull'autorialità e sull'attribuzione di essa - leggasi J.J. Abrams), alla scrittura dei personaggi, alla comprensione e alla valutazione, dalla critica fino alle più ardite elucubrazioni dei fan. Mi è piaciuta anche l'onestà dell'approccio; anche a lui alcune serie piacciono di più e altre di meno, tanto che uno degli spunti più interessanti è la sua autodifesa per non aver amato la famosa serie Mad Men. Lettura che consiglio un po' a tutti, in particolare ovviamente a quelli che si cibano quotidianamente delle complesse creature HBO, ABC, FOX, Netflix and so on.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Maria Di Biase

    Jason Mittell, nella raccolta di saggi Complex TV, pone l’accento sulla qualità tecnica raggiunta dallo storytelling delle serie TV. Secondo Mittell, siamo in un’epoca in cui «si dice che spesso la televisione è diventata più “letteraria” o “cinematografica”, mutuando il prestigio di forme culturali più consolidate come la letteratura e il cinema; ma il modo migliore per comprendere questi cambiamenti è analizzare il mezzo televisivo in sé, piuttosto che cercare di legittimarlo attraverso simili Jason Mittell, nella raccolta di saggi Complex TV, pone l’accento sulla qualità tecnica raggiunta dallo storytelling delle serie TV. Secondo Mittell, siamo in un’epoca in cui «si dice che spesso la televisione è diventata più “letteraria” o “cinematografica”, mutuando il prestigio di forme culturali più consolidate come la letteratura e il cinema; ma il modo migliore per comprendere questi cambiamenti è analizzare il mezzo televisivo in sé, piuttosto che cercare di legittimarlo attraverso similitudini cross-mediali». La legittimazione si è resa necessaria per contrastare un atteggiamento culturale che considerava la televisione un mezzo deleterio, capace soltanto di assicurare sedute di lobotomia a ciclo continuo. Scavalcando la polemica, Mittell sottolinea quanto sia evidente il cambiamento del panorama mediale recente, caratterizzato dall’emergere di programmi che fanno un uso sempre più evoluto dei meccanismi narrativi seriali. Mittell si concentra sugli aspetti formali dei media più che sull’influenza culturale degli stessi, suggerendo l’utilizzo di una terminologia specifica, che non prenda in prestito il linguaggio della critica letteraria. https://www.scratchbook.net/2018/02/s...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Milka

    Extremely interesting, and as I predicted, crucial for my master's thesis. Extremely interesting, and as I predicted, crucial for my master's thesis.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    I love this book because I love thinking about this stuff and I love picking up the vocab and the theories and the ideas and the framework. Honestly, I loved reading this book so I can talk about it and write papers and blog posts based on this theory. It's a little densely written, but I really like this stuff and I liked reading about it. Great book. ~Read for FTTV group with Dr Rudy~ I love this book because I love thinking about this stuff and I love picking up the vocab and the theories and the ideas and the framework. Honestly, I loved reading this book so I can talk about it and write papers and blog posts based on this theory. It's a little densely written, but I really like this stuff and I liked reading about it. Great book. ~Read for FTTV group with Dr Rudy~

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alice D'Arrigo

    Di sicuro interessante, però un po' dispersivo in alcune parti Di sicuro interessante, però un po' dispersivo in alcune parti

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    It was cool to think about TV shows in the context of film studies. I found it really interesting but would have loved to see this guy talk about Game of Thrones more (I'm biased, what can I say) It was cool to think about TV shows in the context of film studies. I found it really interesting but would have loved to see this guy talk about Game of Thrones more (I'm biased, what can I say)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Thought I would love this, but ended up being so academic it sucked the fun out of my favourite subject.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Colin Cox

    Jason Mittell's Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling is an exhaustive and rewarding study of television storytelling since the inception of shows like The Wire and The Sopronos. As Mittell suggests, these shows, and many of the best shows of the past two decades, shifted television's "narrative paradigms" (10). These shows offer an array of new narrative paradigms, which Mittell houses under the terminology "narrative complexity." According to Mittell, narrative comple Jason Mittell's Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling is an exhaustive and rewarding study of television storytelling since the inception of shows like The Wire and The Sopronos. As Mittell suggests, these shows, and many of the best shows of the past two decades, shifted television's "narrative paradigms" (10). These shows offer an array of new narrative paradigms, which Mittell houses under the terminology "narrative complexity." According to Mittell, narrative complexity is "an alternative to the conventional episodic and serial forms that have typified most American television since its inception" (17). One of the strengths of Complex TV is Mittell's breadth and scope. Complex TV is about far more than diegesis. Mittell addresses everything from beginnings, endings, and characters (distinctly diegetic considerations) to questions of authorship, evaluation, paratext, and transmedia literacy (distinctly non-diegetic considerations). However, the binary I just described is one Mittell would reject. As he clarifies in his chapters on evaluation, paratext, and transmedia literacy, responses to a narrative have the effect of shaping that same narrative. Mittell's appreciation for fan communities and wikis (in one chapter, he describes his involvement in a Lost wiki) is most evident here. But there are potentially limitations to Mittell's Complex TV. While television, as Mittell argues, has become more complex, his analysis, at times, is not. But I want to be clear: this occasional lack of depth is, I argue, by design. Complex TV is an invitation to media and television scholars to explore the depth of television's complexity like never before. For example, I know someone who wrote a Ph.D. dissertation on the gaps in seriality, something Mittell mentions, but not in any real detail. Mittell's brief musings on seriality are quite interesting, though. He seems to suggest the gaps in seriality are invitations for "head-canon," those blank spaces in serial storytelling fans fill with their unique theories about characters, the story world, and so on. Mittell writes, "The inferred author function becomes prominent in these gaps, both through widely circulating authorial discourses and speculative discussions about what the creators might be up to" (110). The point here is that Complex TV articulates a set of guiding principles to justify and validate the study of television. With that said, some might argue that television, like any "text" subjected to academic consideration, needs no justification. While this notion is truer now than it was even a decade ago, Mittell reads like someone who bears the scars of the fight that so many media scholars fought for television's legitimacy. We certainly take television seriously now, but this was far from true when The Sopronos first aired in 1999.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Florinda

    Guardare le serie tv dopo averlo letto, non sarà più la stessa cosa. Di tanto in tanto, guardando una puntata, perdo il filo di qualche dialogo perché mi metto a rimuginare sui meccanismi spiegati da Mittell che vado ritrovando qui e lì nelle strutture delle serie e della singola puntata.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    808.225 M6851 2015

  11. 4 out of 5

    Feddie

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kristina

  13. 5 out of 5

    Chiara Riviera

  14. 4 out of 5

    Captaindundito

  15. 5 out of 5

    Katrine

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lucy Hucker

  17. 5 out of 5

    Paulo Leierer

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sebastian Nowicki

  19. 5 out of 5

    kylesears

  20. 4 out of 5

    Fliss Van Steenbergen

  21. 4 out of 5

    Marco Cascitelli

  22. 4 out of 5

    Emily Gwiazda

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jenna Guitar

  24. 4 out of 5

    Saravanan Mani

    Mittel carves out a path for himself and other TV scholars in the hybridized TV 3.0 milieu. We need more TV scholarship that privileges the narrative structures native to the form.

  25. 4 out of 5

    spooky blossom.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jill DEARMAN

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brian

  29. 4 out of 5

    Scott Finnegan

  30. 4 out of 5

    Danyeail

  31. 4 out of 5

    Tami

  32. 4 out of 5

    Steve

  33. 4 out of 5

    Ystyn Francis

  34. 5 out of 5

    David Owen

  35. 5 out of 5

    Alicia Joy

  36. 5 out of 5

    Ollie

  37. 5 out of 5

    Junior

  38. 5 out of 5

    Pauline

  39. 5 out of 5

    Claudia Aprilia

  40. 4 out of 5

    Donald

  41. 4 out of 5

    Kirstie Hewlett

  42. 4 out of 5

    Billy

  43. 5 out of 5

    Tyler Sullivan

  44. 5 out of 5

    Julie

  45. 5 out of 5

    Beth

  46. 5 out of 5

    Kasper

  47. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Lemay

  48. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Gilliland

  49. 4 out of 5

    Susan

  50. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Graves

  51. 4 out of 5

    Alex Butterworth

  52. 4 out of 5

    Mary Catherine

  53. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  54. 4 out of 5

    Remi

  55. 4 out of 5

    Joe Xu

  56. 5 out of 5

    Briana

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