Marquette Bookshelf: ‘Prestige Television: Cultural and Artistic Value in Twenty-First-Century America’

Co-edited by Dr. Amanda Keeler, associate professor of digital media and performing arts

“Prestige Television: Cultural and Artistic Value in Twenty-First-Century America” is available as of Friday, Nov. 11, 2022.

Prestige Television explores how a growing array of 21st-century U.S. programming is produced and received in ways that elevate select series above the competition in a saturated market. Contributing authors demonstrate that these shows are positioned and understood as comprising an increasingly recognizable genre characterized by familiar markers of distinction. In contrast to most accounts of elite categorizations of contemporary U.S. television programming that center on HBO and its primary streaming rivals, these essays examine how efforts to imbue series with prestigious or elevated status now permeate the rest of the medium, including network as well as basic and undervalued premium cable channels. Case study chapters focusing on diverse series, ranging from widely recognized examples such as The Americans (2013-18) and The Knick (2014-15) to contested examples like Queen of the South (2016-21) and How I Met Your Mother (2005-14), highlight how contributing authors extend conceptions of the genre beyond expected parameters.

Learn more or purchase this book on Rutgers University Press

Dr. Keeler answered some questions about her new book, including where the idea for the book came from, her favorite part of the writing process and what she hopes the book can accomplish.

How would you describe the book in one sentence?

Prestige Television explores how contemporary television programs are produced and received in ways that elevate select series above the competition in a saturated market.

What was your favorite part of the writing/editing process?

Seeing the chapters move from abstracts to their final drafts. I’m very proud of the many years of labor I put into this book!

Where did the idea for this book come from?

My co-editor came up with the idea, and I came to the project after the initial idea was conceived. It was really about thinking outside of the narrow critical lens of the types of shows that get held up as better than others. It looks at many other types of television programs that fall outside of the narrow parameters, and examines why certain shows are overlooked because of genre, audience and subject matter.

What do you hope to accomplish with this book?

Just to engage with the conversation about how we critically elevate certain television programs, moving beyond the narrow idea that only male-centric, serialized, violent, “anti-hero” programs on HBO or AMC deserve critical attention.

How does this book advance or complement your research and/or teaching?

In my Media Aesthetics class, I ask students to watch films and television programs to explore how all aspects of visual and aural storytelling contribute to the depth and complexity possible in fiction storytelling.

I also teach Radio and Television History, and there is a long precedent of critics valorizing certain programs (e.g., primetime live anthology dramas in the 1950s, “relevant” sitcoms of the 1970s) over others, such as programs marketed to women on 1930s-40s radio.

Is this your first book? What is your publishing history?

This is my first edited anthology. I’ve published many book chapters and journal articles on other radio and television programs, such as Star Trek, Gilmore Girls, The ABC Afterschool Specials and The Walking Dead. I am currently writing a TV milestones book with Wayne State University Press on The Rockford Files (1974-80).

If you have recently published a book, or if you have one coming out, we would like to feature your publication in an upcoming Marquette Bookshelf feature. More information on the submission process is available online.

Book Details

  • Publisher:Rutgers University Press (Nov. 11, 2022)
  • Language:English
  • Paperback:240 pages
  • ISBN-10:1978818262
  • ISBN-13:978-1978818262