Essay writers!

In media research it is quite rare to find that other scholars have already published on the series that you are analyzing. This requires you to think conceptually about the content of the series. Does it represent whiteness? Look for literature on whiteness. Is it a border patrol or bounty hunter show? Look for literature that addresses representations of police, criminals and surveillance. Think more about the content of the series, rather than the series itself.

Search the library for resources as well as the e-resources, including the academic journals:

Critical Studies in Media Communication
Feminist Media Studies
Communication and Critical / Cultural Studies
http://www.flowjournal.org/
http://cstonline.tv/

It is generally useful to search your series and content-related concepts through an e-resource search engine (e.g. Ebscohost, Scholar’s Portal, Project MUSE) on the University Library website.

The following are suggestions to get you thinking about what you could include in your essay (as a paragraph or more). Obviously you can only cover a few of these in your essay. They are intended for guidance and inspiration:

– some context for the emergence of reality TV (Oullette and Murray; Madger)
– an analysis of product placements on your series (Oullette and Murray; Madger; McMurria)
– Is your show a prepackaged format? If yes, put that in context (Madger).
– If you are interested in the business side of reality TV, consider the ads that run during your series and what they suggest about the target demographics of the show (Madger). In turn, how does this target demo relate to the people shown onscreen? Are they similar or different (Kraszewski)?
– Is “convergence” part of your show? Do viewers vote or find extra content online? Is this an example of “Participation TV” (Madger) and interactivity (Oullette and Murray)? Is there merchandise that accompanies the series? How does this relate to neoliberalism?
– Is there “user-generated-content” on your series (Oullette and Murray)?
– Does your series conform to and expand the basic characteristics of reality TV as outlined by Oullette and Murray?
– Is your series a form of “do-goodism” that privatizes social services to those in need (Oullette and Murray; Oullette; McMurria)? How does this relate to social justice and/or neoliberalism?
– Does your series normalize surveillance (Oullette and Murray; Oullette; Sender and Sullivan)?
– Does your series normalize and train the cast and viewers for self-surveillance (Oullette and Murray; Oullette; Sender and Sullivan)? How does this relate to neoliberalism and/or social justice?
– Consider the relevance of the panopticon to your series (Oullette and Murray; Oullette).
– Does your series acknowledge widespread, systemic and complex social issues such as race, class, sex or sexuality inequalities (like Kevin in Kraszewski’s article)? Or does the show focus on getting individuals to transform and “work on” themselves (Oullette and Murray; Kraszewski; Oullette; Hasinoff)? How does this relate to social justice and/or neoliberalism?
– Look online for select viewer responses to the series and categorize them according to Scarborough and McCoy’s “bad” TV viewing styles, while offering some context for how these viewing styles reflect ideas about “cultural capital.”
– On your series, are the cast members encouraged to gain “cultural capital” in order to become “better” subjects (Scarborough and McCoy; Sender; Hasinoff)? How does this reinforce conventional notions of “high” and “low” culture? How does this relate to neoliberalism and/or social justice?
– How are “urban” and “rural” represented on your series (Kraszewski; Hasinoff)? How does this relate to social justice?
– If your series runs on MTV, how does it relate to the liberal, urban and privileged MTV viewer that Kraszewski outlines? How does this relate to social justice?
– Do the cast members ever acknowledge production (Fox)?
– If relevant, how does your series depict black masculinities (Kraszewski; Drew)? How does this relate to social justice?
– Is whiteness characterized in your series as unmarked, unspecified, universalized, neutral and / ordinary (Kraszewski; Hasinoff; Drew)? How does this relate to social justice?
– Are the white people on the series depicted as “ideal” or “less-than-ideal”? Are these characterizations linked to class in any way (Oullette)? Do these depictions relate to Kraszewski’s hierarchy of whiteness? How does this relate to social justice and/or neoliberalism?
– Are the racialized characters on your series depicted as though they can, or are expected to, represent their race (Kraszewski; Drew)?
– Are gay characters, or other minorities, expected to represent “their group,” while those in dominance are depicted as individuals (Kraszewski; Fox; Drew)? How does this relate to privilege?
–  Does your series privatize services that are currently part of the public sector (Oullette; McMurria)? How does this relate to social justice and/or neoliberalism?
– Does your series privilege dual-income families (Oullette) or couples (Sender, 146)? How does this relate to neoliberalism?
– On your series, do women need to “‘take care of themselves’ so that the state doesn’t have to” (Oullette, 238)? What about men? How does this relate to neoliberalism?
– Within the logic of your show, can people ever be victims? If no, see Judge Judy (Oullette). If yes, under what circumstances (McMurria)? How does this relate to social justice and/or neoliberalism?
– Does your series depict the American Dream (Oullette; Hasinoff)? How does this relate to social justice and/or neoliberalism?
– How does your series reflect or challenge neoliberal values (Oullette; McMurria)?
– Hoes does your series reflect Foucault’s notion of “governmentality” (Oullette; Sender and Sullivan)?
– How are the cast members on your show encouraged to be “good,” self-regulating, financially independent, neoliberal subjects (Oullette; Sender and Sullivan; Sender; McMurria)? What are the qualities of “model citizens and deserving families” (McMurria, 330)?
– Do the cast members on your series fail to be “good” neoliberal subjects? Are their failures shown to be positive attributes or problems to be solved? How does this relate to social justice?
– Is self-esteem mentioned on your series? How does it relate to Sender and Sullivan’s discussion of self-esteem as a concept intended to encourage self-regulation? How does this relate to neoliberalism?
– If there are makeovers on the series, are the projected outcomes gendered in some way (e.g. love, career, family)? In other words, in the logic of the show, how will men’s and women’s lives be “better” post-makeover (Sender and Sullivan; Sender)?
– Does the series urge its cast members toward privatized spaces and services (e.g. gyms, personal trainers) (Sender and Sullivan, 582; Sender)? How does this relate to social justice and/or neoliberalism?
– Does the series urge its cast members towards consumption of products (e.g. specialized food or clothing) (Sender and Sullivan, 582; Sender)? How does this relate to social justice and/or neoliberalism?
– Does the series connect “good” self-esteem with self-sufficiency (Sender and Sullivan)? How does this relate to social justice and/or neoliberalism?
– On the series, does the state or a private company help to make the individuals onscreen become “better” citizens (Oullette; Sender and Sullivan; Sender; McMurria)? How does this relate to social justice neoliberalism?
– How is body fat depicted on your series? Is it depicted as a problem to be managed or disguised through clothing or weight loss (Sender and Sullivan)? How does this relate to social justice and/or neoliberalism?
– Does your series train its cast members toward “skilled consumption” (Sender and Sullivan, 582; Sender)?
– Does your series focus on self-discipline or self-esteem (Sender and Sullivan)? Can you connect this to gendered versions of neoliberalism?
– Does your show characterize the workforce as a meritocracy? How does this relate to social justice?
– Does your series reflect a “camp” sensibility (Sender)?
– Are any of the cast members or participants on the series characterized as “too ethnic” (Sender)? How does this connect to neoliberalism?
– Are the cast members or participants expected to be (endlessly) “flexible” so that they can get or keep jobs (Sender; Hasinoff)? In what ways? Speech? Clothing? Skilled consumption?How does this connect to precarious labour, neoliberalism, flexible capitalism and/or social justice (Sender; Hasinoff)?
– Does your series reflect a “crisis of masculinity” where men are expected to “work on themselves” in order to be marriageable and employable (Sender)?
– Does your series seek to “solve the ‘problem’ of the male consumer” (Sender, 133)? How does this relate to neoliberalism and expanding markets?
– Is the neoliberal subject represented as “mature” in contrast to the “immature” subject who fails to live up to neoliberal norms (Sender)?
– Does the series seek to encourage “the production of an adult, responsible, worker-citizen” (Sender, 142)? Yes or no, how does this relate to neoliberalism?
– Does your series feature a “can-do girl” and / or an “at-risk girl”? How do these characterizations relate to neoliberalism (Hasinoff)?
– Does your series privilege racial ambiguity, specifically cast members or contestants who are “brown but not too brown it has the potential of appealing to all, because it could be a tanned white, everything in between, and a light black’ (2005a, p. 313)” (Hasinoff, 330). How does this relate to social justice and/or neoliberalism?
– Does the series privilege or urge participants toward “a ‘blank canvas’… that is in fact a performance that reflects elements of unmarked upper class whiteness demonstrated by speech, posture, attitude, personal grooming, and style” (Hasinoff, 338)? Does the series encourage viewers to look down on or laugh at participants or cast members who do not conform to these “elements of unmarked upper class whiteness”? How does this relate to social justice?
– Similar to the questions above, does the series privilege Standard American English (Hasinoff)? How so? How does this relate to neoliberalism and/or social justice?
– Does volunteerism play a role in the series (McMurria)? How does this connect to social justice and/or neoliberalism?
– Does the series feature corporate benevolence? How does this relate to social justice?
– Inspired by McMurria’s EMHE: Public, what might an alternative version of this series look like? How might your series reveal inequalities rather than concealing and individualizing them?
– Are race or gender essentialized on the series (Hasinoff; Drew)? How so?
– Does the series have the pretence of being “postracial” or do the cast members claim to be “colour-blind”? How so? Or is the series “race cognizant”? How does this connect to social justice?
– Does your series cover any of racist tropes for representing racialized groups that Drew covers in her article, specifically Black, Asian and Latino? How does this connect to social justice? Do these tropes appear within a series that otherwise purports to be postracial?

Keep in mind that the articles may be of use to you even if you are not writing about the same shows. For example, if you are writing about representations of white, working-class people, the literature on Honey-Boo-Boo may help you.