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Despite its ubiquity and influential power as a cultural form, television has often been overlooked and even dismissed as little more than a diversion in our everyday lives. As a result, the experience of watching TV has frequently been compared to other “leisure activities” in which participants — far from being mentally engaged — can let their minds rest (or wander) and momentarily “escape” the real world. However, it is because of its ubiquitous presence in our lives that television demands scrutiny, particularly with regard to the means by which it generates both consensus and debate about matters of great political and social importance. On this site, we will take television seriously as a popular persuasive force, one that is capable of narrative complexity and thematic profundity as well as artistic preeminence in this age of digital media, mobile viewing, online file sharing, and instant Internet access to classic programs of yesteryear.

We are in the midst of what some commentators call a new “Golden Age of Television,” initiated nearly two decades ago by HBO programs like The Sopranos and The Wire and, more recently, AMC hits like Mad Men and Breaking Bad. Also referred to as “Peak TV,”  the current cultural moment is marked by an abundance of viewing options and offerings, much of which is now available through various streaming services (as opposed to traditional broadcast channels). At the heart of Peak TV is a host of critically lauded series that will receive special attention on this website, including House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Master of None, Mindhunter, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, BoJack Horseman, Dear White People, Luke CageJessica Jones, and Stranger Things. These shows share something in common: they are all examples of Netflix original programming, available for online consumption via the world’s most popular on-demand, subscription-based media provider/distributor.

This site has two main functions: [1] it gives students in my online Evaluating Contemporary Television course (SPCM 341) an opportunity to engage in a dialogue about Netflix-related topics; and [2] it serves the larger community of TV fans, scholars, and general audiences who would like to learn more about this important, increasingly powerful streaming service.

Please feel free to join in the conversation!

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