New TelevisionThe Aesthetics and Politics of a Genre

New TelevisionThe Aesthetics and Politics of a Genre

Martin Shuster

Print publication date: 2018

ISBN: 9780226503813

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

New Television: The Aesthetics and Politics of a Genre argues that contemporary television series, especially from Twin Peaks onwards, are significant as both works of art and as meditations in political philosophy. Offering close readings of a wide variety of shows including The Wire, Justified, and Weeds, among others, New Television also engages throughout with European and Anglophone philosophers, such as Stanley Cavell, Hannah Arendt, John Rawls, and Martin Heidegger. In addition to showing how these shows link up to elements of aesthetic modernism and to portions of modern political philosophy, New Television constructs a framework of the genre of new television, a genre that is revealed as having deep political implications, where the world is presented as entirely devoid of any source of normative authority. At the same time, the genre consistently offers one exception to this normative collapse: the family. Though often portrayed in radically non-traditional ways, it is the family, with its many permutations and imperfections, that becomes the site for an exploration of potential political renewal and of the possibility of politics altogether. In this way, New Television proceeds as both a study in aesthetics as well as in political philosophy.