The introduction to New Television situates television shows from Twin Peaks onwards amidst other aesthetic developments, both with the medium of television and beyond. It pushes back against almost all of the dominant ways in which these shows have been understood (which often makes the shows subservient to some other quality, say, “cinema” or “complexity”) and tries to understand them on their own terms. To do this, it places analysis or criticism of them into traditions of ordinary language philosophy, where the focus is on understanding one’s experience (traditions exemplified here above all by Stanley Cavell). The introduction presents an understanding of the genre of ‘new television’ as a genre that explores the novelty of human life, especially as it emerges from and serves as a commentary on a world that is presented as otherwise devoid of any normative authority. The introduction concludes with a phenomenological consideration of the significance of a genre bound up with the television medium, that is with something that is fundamentally made to be screened in the home.
Keywords: television, television series, new television, Stanley Cavell, Gaston Bachelard, Robert Warshow, natality, family, The Wire, Weeds