Serial Discourses of Gender in Contemporary Cable Television Narratives

Associated Project F

This project focuses on the production of gender in and around contemporary US American cable television series.

The project analyzes the gender(ing) of characters as something that is done on the basis of seriality. The underlying concept of gender as performance, a repetition or confirmation but that also potentially be varied or deviated from. How is gender “done” in television narratives and which role does seriality play in the establishment and transmission of gender?

An analysis of gender in television series undermines the assumption that gender is constructed by an individual or a subject by conscious choice but shows that gender as a discursive product is established through an intermingling of different factors. Constructions of gender are not only located within the “actual” text of the television series but authorized (making-ofs, interviews, or spin-ofs) as well as unauthorized paratexts (online forum discussion, fan fiction, blogs, recaps, tv critics, etc.) also always have an impact on these discourses of gender.

The project will focus on three contemporary US-American Cable Television Series that are relevant discursive knots of a larger discussion about gender and American serial television: The Walking Dead (AMC, 2010-2014), Breaking Bad (AMC, 2008-2013) and Girls (HBO, 2010-2014).

Research Associate: Maria Sulimma, John F. Kennedy Institute, FU Berlin