Circus a la King

This post originally appeared on the Critical Studies in Television blog. Good true crime is like an onion: each layer, each episode, revealing more of the complexity of the case, more about the character and behavior of the suspects, more about possible motives and alibis, and more potentially compromising truths. In Netflix’s Tiger King (2020), each layer […]

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The Food that Built America

This post originally appeared on the Critical Studies in Television blog. Despite the confidence of its title, History’s recent miniseries The Food That Built America (2019) seems to invite questions about its own premise. What, we might ask, does it mean to say that a particular food has built America? Do we mean “built” economically? Culturally? Politically? All of the above? […]

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Drunk History

This post originally appeared on the Critical Studies in Television blog. Incongruity, Immanuel Kant once observed, is an essential element of humor. “In everything that is to excite a lively convulsive laugh there must be something absurd (in which the understanding, therefore, can find no satisfaction). Laughter is an affectation arising from the sudden transformation of […]

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Nostalgia for the Neighborhood

This post originally appeared on the Critical Studies in Television blog. “Well, we all need a little love in our lives.” So replied the actor-musician François Clemmons, who for 25 years played Officer Clemmons on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (Family Communications, 1968-2001), when he was asked recently why he thought it was that the new documentary about his friend Fred […]

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Pasts Unknown

This post originally appeared on the Critical Studies in Television blog. Like Proust and his madeleine, the simple act of eating in Anthony Bourdain’s television shows usually became an occasion for memory. Whether it was over mohinga in Yangon, egusi soup in Lagos, or clams at the Jersey shore, sharing a meal with Bourdain often became a portal to […]

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Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Television Crusade

This post originally appeared on the blog of the International Association for Media and History (IAMHIST) When it premiered on the ABC (U.S.) network in the spring of 1949, Crusade in Europe, the 26-part adaptation of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s best-selling war memoir was hailed as long-awaited confirmation of TV’s capacity for cultural enlightenment – proof positive […]

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