One of my favorite shows that I feel has had a very interesting progression of subtext throughout its 10 seasons is Degrassi: The Next Generation. This show has been in production for several years and can be linked back to the 1980s. The show follows students enrolled at Degrassi Community School through their quests to find themselves while trying to survive Junior High and High school. Throughout the shows history it has intimated and portrayed tweens and teens from several different time periods. As well as presenting different subtexts and approaches in the show according to the dynamic of the youth of the time. Three common subtexts that have followed Degrassi are:
- School is the center of the tween and teenage experience.
- The ages of 12-18 are a very important time that dictates many decisions in later life.
- Temptations created by peers along with naivety causes 99% of problems in a young adult’s life.
The subtexts used in this show I feel create a very interesting effect on its audience. First, all of the subtexts used in Degrassi are directly linked with the ideas of the audience. The makers of Degrassi take great pride in finding out what its audience thinks and feels. After knowing these ideas the show then feeds them back to the audience in a more dramatic fashion. This does several things; mainly it keeps the audience interested and engaged. Along with that the audience also feels an interesting sense of relativity to the show. Another effect of these subtexts is diversity it creates in audience. The subtext in Degrassi allows the show to reach anyone in the target age range despite racial, social, and economical differences.
Degrassi as far as I have seen has never been in print media. But more recently the creation of several forums and blogs dedicated to the show has grown. There is even a Degrassi Wikipedia fan base. The show is heavily catered to teens. It is aired in the US on Teennick. The show features an all teen cast who you watch throughout their young adult lives and each episode is even named after a popular song of the time. Degrassi is heavily influenced by the fans and their lives being filled with modern-day references and even taking place in the current 2010-2011 school year. Degrassi is dictated by what the fans are interested in and seeing. The subtexts in Degrassi are a major factor in its long success and by reflecting on it, these subtexts are a major reason I am a fan.
The Office is a show that has been a part of my like since eighth grade. I have never been a person to sit down and watch TV. In fact I do not watch any shows on television. The only thing I watch when I watch TV is a big event (like the ESPYs or X-Games or Olympics), otherwise it is just ESPN. The Office was a show that a friend of mine showed me. He had the complete Season 1 on DVD discs. After viewing the first couple shows, I was hooked. The following years, I bought all of the seasons on my computer and to this day am still downloading iTunes episodes of Season 7 as they go along.
The subtext of this show is very unique. The Office is a show about a small paper company, Dunder Mifflin. More specifically, the setting takes place in Scranton, Pennsylvania in a small building. The “Scranton Branch” is a group of around 14 individuals, and the show films their day to day interactions. This show is definitely a comedy. The company, led by branch manager Michael Scott (Steve Carrell), never has a dull moment. Each specific character has an interesting or funny mannerism, way they carry themselves, or where they come from. Whether you look at Creed, an old man with a mysteriously suspicious past and his haunting yet hilarious comments, or Jim Halpert, a young salesman who has fallen in love with the company’s secretary and flirt-buddy, Pam Beasley.
The Office has been featured in a lot of print media throughout its campaign. Among other awards and recognitions, the webisodes earned The Office a 2010 Streamy Award for “Best Companion Web Series”. In Pennsylvania, there is a giant billboard of Michael Scott and the other Dunder Mifflin Employees as an advertisement for Season 7. Other than that, The Office ads can be found in various current magazine issues and newspaper articles such as Rollingstone, the New York Times, and E! Hollywood.
Interestingly, there is no music in the show.Part o the humor is the element of “awkward silence”. This plays a big role in the shows success. The famous theme song is actually the only bit of music on the show. This theme song is by “The Scrantones”, which is a local band in Pennsylvania. The lightheartedness and slapdash humor of the film gives a great element of intrigue. This show could attract a great range of audiences. This includes children in middle school all the way to parents and even grandparents. It is a very versatile show; appealing to a lot of different crowds. I would say that the primary audience would be around my age, from about age 18 to 25. It is extremely popular among my friends back home in Minnesota.
HBO’s critically acclaimed series, Boardwalk Empire, is a period piece set in the roaring twenties, right at the onset of Prohibition. The show is loosely based on Atlantic City’s Nucky Johnson, the city’s racketeering and liquor smuggling gangster kingpin. When viewed through a media grammar lens, the piece reveals many of popular social opinions of the era. Immediately apparent is the tremendous social gap between men and women. Women are granted the right to vote midway through the series, and are still viewed submissive objects for the most part, only achieving a small amount of power through sex. An audience response of disgusted awe is oftentimes encountered, owing to the corruption in government which still manages to run incredibly well. These themes of corruption and sexism contribute to the overall production desire to portray the stark contrast between the popular culture and social system of the modern era and the twenties.
The series was advertised in print publications such as People and Sports Illustrated. The music in the show is jazz and other pop music of the era, an additional area of enjoyment for me. The show expects that the audience has a somewhat veiled desire for taboo content, showcased through its romantic portrayal of criminals and gangsters. Viewers are drawn to these “bad boys” much like the “rebels” of pop music, going all the way back to Jim Morrison or even Elvis. The show fills a niche in pop culture today as a gangster era drama, but it also allows for a sort of outlet for some of the common emotions today. By watching shows like Boardwalk Empire, one is able to moonlight as a dashing rebel who cares not for the laws of the “common” man. It provides an escape from the mundane everyday, something which many shows today strive for.
Modern Family is a half-hour long mockumentary comedy series that is broadcast on ABC. The series follows the lives of Jay Pritchett (a.k.a., Al Bundy of Married with Children fame), his son Mitchell, and daughter, Claire Dunphy. Jay is married to Gloria, his second wife, a much younger woman from Columbia (who is just as stunningly attractive as she is witty) and cares for her wise-beyond-his-years son, Manny. Mitchell, on the other hand, lives with his partner Cameron Tucker; together they raise their recently adopted Vietnamese daughter Lily. Finally, Claire is married to the goofiest guy around, Phil Dunphy. The couple has three kooky kids: Haley, Alex, and Luke. While this family tree may sound rather confusing, I believe that it exemplifies the show’s subtext. Modern Family does not portray the traditional nuclear family of father, mother, and child (ren)—dog optional—as seen on shows like Leave it to Beaver; rather, it portrays today’s more modern, and eclectic, definition of what it means to be a family.
Additionally, each family group experience comedic everyday scenarios that many of the show’s 12 million plus viewers seem to relate to. For instance, in one episode entitled “Moon Landing” Claire and Phil’s two youngest children go around the neighborhood collecting bottles and cans for recycling. They kids come home and ask their father what Jagermeister is. In classic Phil fashion he replies, “You know how in a fairy tale there’s always a potion that makes the princess fall asleep and then the guys start kissing her? Well, this is like that except you don’t wake up in a castle — you wake up in a frat house with a bad reputation.” Classic! With lines like that there really is no need for music—which may be why no tunes are featured in the show. As for borrowing from online environment, ABC.com has a webpage that is solely dedicated to the show. It features popular quotes, episode recaps, and character bios, just to name a few. With that said, tune in to Modern Family, Wednesday nights on ABC. (Check your local listings for times.)
I chose South Park as a show to examine through the lens of media grammar because it’s one of my favorite shows and it always changes in relation to subtext. Usually each episode has an underlying message that the writers of the show are trying to get across to the audience, but not necessarily a specific subtext. A general subtext that the show exhibits in its fundamental structure and with its continuing themes is usually racism, sexism, and downgrading religion. Although most of this seems to be pretty sarcastic, it is implied to the viewers that these topics are what the show is meant to be about. The sarcasm and mockery of each of these ideas provides a larger level of entertainment, while the setting of the show and/or the demographic of its characters focus on the issues and topics we as a society usually deal with in everyday life. Thus the subtext of the episodes in general are not meant to be taken seriously, but to provide a new viewpoint to the viewers. One episode could be making fun of news or a show on television that has been receiving lots of coverage, while another could be making fun of a culture “fad” or celebrity. South Park has been featured in magazines, newspapers, and sometimes books. Usually when South Park is featured in print media, it receives a lot of negative and sometimes positive criticism. This is due to the extent of mocking the show does in order to get its point across to the viewer. It even contains a sarcastic warning message at the beginning of each episode not to take it seriously.
The music in the show varies from time to time, but usually each episode starts off with a folk country song that mixes with the characters voices. Throughout the episode, the music varies from serious orchestra music to happy tunes. The genre of this show is comedy, but the authors add a bit of cleverness to the humor in each episode. They carefully try not to subject themselves to contradictions and aim to get as little negative criticism from viewers, but it still manages to offend a select few every time. The point of view in the show is generally done in a 3rd person view, but it really depends on the episode because the producers like to switch it up a lot. I feel that the audience they’re trying to aim at is anywhere from a high school level to anyone in baby boomer generation because it contains pieces of culture from different eras. It borrows from the online environment because they see that since the Internet has become a big phenomenon, they want to interact in a more personal way with their audience. One example is an episode known as “Canada On Strike”, in which they make fun of YouTube stars and the fame they have acquired over time. Though it is a bit graphic in parts, it is still an enjoyable episode to watch for anyone that knows of these people.
Pretty Little Liars is the new hit television series on ABC Family. It is classified as a mystery teen drama, and it is based on the novel series by Sara Shepard. The show aired on June 8, 2010, and ABC Family has continued to order more shows as the season continues.
The television series revolves around a group of four best friends and the ongoing mystery surrounding the murder their fifth and favorite friend, Allison. The four friends, Spencer, Hanna, Aria, and Emily all have their own secrets that could turn their lives upside down, yet somehow a mysterious “A” keeps finding them out and blackmailing the group. The teenage girls must juggle their social and family lives, school, and making sure their secrets don’t get out.
Pretty Little Liars is composed of many different sub-textual messages. The primary and most obvious policy is that the truth is always the best thing to tell. This is demonstrated in some secrets being told, and the backlash that could have been minimized if the truth was told from the beginning. Also Pretty Little Liars is set in a stereotypical high school, and the main characters are all beautiful, skinny, smart, and admired. This is commenting on what it takes to be the popular girls, but it also demonstrates all the girls sacrifice for their status. Also, the show comments on how inappropriate student-teacher relationships can become, and the potential fallout if the secret comes out. Finally, the media grammar also supports gay/lesbian relationships, responsible teenage drinking, and sometimes unguided teenage lifestyles. It has been said that young teens should not watch the show if they are “too impressionable”.
Although Pretty Little Liars is a relatively new show, it is already leaping into other forms of media. The music that is included in the show’s soundtrack is by popular and up and coming artists that are award winning and have appeared in magazines and multitudes of blogs. Also, as mentioned before the series is based upon a novel series. The series is being promoted through ABC Family by advertising in print, online, on facebook and twitter, as well as creating game applications for the iPod.
I believe that as the show continues to gain popularity more and more commentary on society and ongoing issues will arise. Also, I foresee more convergence to reach an even larger audience.
Modern Family, is an American comedy series , said also to be filmed as a mockumentary, a genre of television in which invented events are presented in documentary format. The show is aired on ABC and follows the families of Jay, his daughter Claire, and his son Mitchell. Each family is unique in their own way, however some of the best moments occur when different family members interact with one another. Each family seems to fall into some sort of American stereotype. Jay is remarried to a much younger Colombian woman, Gloria who he helps raise Manny, her preteen son.Claire is a stay-at-home mom, who is married to her husband Phil with whom they have three children. Mitchell and his partner Cam have recently adopted a Vietnamese baby, Lily.The subtext in each episode may be different depending on its theme, however, the moral of the show would be that it’s important to support and love your family no matter how crazy they can be or how much they can annoy or upset you. Modern Family has managed to create a new and refreshing perspective on what it means to be a family. It is a show that might not directly reflect your own family, but each episode there is something the audience can relate to. However, the subtext of the show would be to accept changes and differences within society, to embrace people for their quirks and differences whether they be your family or not. This show accepts each character for who they are and embraces not only each of their personalities, but their background, race (Lily), culture (Gloria & Manny), sexuality (Cam & Mitchell), and popularity (Alex & Haley).
Modern Family has been featured in various forms of print media, such as newspapers and magazines, although information and updates on the show or most likely to be found online on blogs and other networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, where the show actually has its own fan page where updates, highlights, and unreleased footage can be seen, as well as fans responses to certain episodes or posts. The show definitely benefits from the online world, making it easier for them to network and make a nationwide fan-base. Since it is a comedy, it’s no doubt that the audience would expect to get more than just a few laughs out of the show, but I also believe that they expect to be able to relate to the show and the characters within it, whether it remind viewers of their own family or stereotypical families seen within the US.