The Countdown to Y2KTV and the Arrival of the New Serialists

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Transgressive Television: Politics and Crime in 21st Century American TV Series

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There is certainly a “before” and “after” to television in America and internationally when considering The Sopranos (HBO, 1999-2007). More than a half-century after the first stirrings of prime-time drama in the United States, The Sopranos jump started the aesthetic, narrative, and generic potential of TV to new and ever greater heights. Nevertheless, the seminal and innovative nature of The Sopranos was not achieved in an industrial, technological, and aesthetic vacuum. Showrunner David Chase and his creative team were deeply enmeshed in the practices and techniques of broadcast television, even though they and their sponsoring network, HBO, were aspiring to move beyond these institutional parameters.
This lead chapter describes and analyzes the business, economic, and artistic transformation happening within the context of a rapidly evolving media marketplace where the firewall between TV and movies eventually came down at the turn of the 21st century because of the industrial and technological changes brought about by convergence. Special attention is paid to innovations in post-1981 U.S. scripted programming as well as The Sopranos’ aftereffect in relation to business, technological, and aesthetic innovations in theatrical film as well as the broadcasting, cable-and-satellite, and OTT (over-the-top content) streaming sectors of the current television industry.


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