FMS 150 UCI Blurred Boundaries & Youth Centric Branding in Post Network Era Essay


Please engage one of this week’s authors (Rebecca Williams ) and both of the week’s screenings (The Vampire Diaries, “Family Ties” and Supergirl, “Pilot”) to craft an organized and coherent 300-500 word response to the week’s material. You may choose to address anyone or multiple of the below prompts and/or pose your own questions, critiques, and assessments. Please address specific and relevant aesthetic/thematic/narrative details about the episode(s), though, and use direct quotes or substantive paraphrases of the readings? ANSWERHow do Williams these programs as “quality” youth television? What are the social/political limitations tied to this categorization, and how does the designation affect our readings of The Vampire Diaries and Supergirl?WATCH BOTH SCREENINGS IN :…ONLY WATCH REQUIRED!!!! L.O.G. IN ATTACHED AS FILE

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FMS 150:
of Youth TV
Thesis for this week
Conglomeration and streaming have blurred lines between “traditional”
broadcast programming and narrowcasting, resulting in a glut of youth-driven
TV platforms and viewing options. Nonetheless, superhero cross-media
“universes” have emerged as sites of “big tent” marketing, with brands like
Marvel and DC catering to teen and young adult audiences but also exerting
hegemonic influence over the media industries writ large. On one hand, these
programs/platforms have expanded representation, in some cases enfranchising
historically marginalized viewers and broadening the appeal of traditionally
delegitimated genres (fantasy, comics, horror). On the other, they have imposed
a particularly corporate youth-centric, straight, and safely “multicultural”
disposition on cultural production, inhibiting other furtive avenues for creative
Broadcast and Streaming:
A Capitalist Love Story
Review: Conglomeration
and Horizontal
Communications Act of 1996 allows for horizontal
integration/corporate mergers, beginning with ABC/Disney appearance of choice but, by 2012, six major companies
control majority of media production/distribution
Streaming DOES NOT change the industrial dynamic –
companies like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video rely
on content produced by these conglomerates and aired
previously on network/cable TV
◦ Works to dispel the myth that networks and streaming platforms
are at odds; rather, as Christopher Anderson observed about film
studios and TV networks in the 1950s, media companies engage
synergistic opportunities to “rebrand” amidst
technological/cultural change
Streaming Content and
Streaming services have moved in the direction of producing their own
shows to profits and awards acclaim, though libraries still reliant on
preexisting content
Each conglomerate has followed suit in developing and/or acquiring their
own exclusive services to maintain/expand control over valuable libraries
and propagate brand control under seemingly “diverse” banners
(Hulu/Disney/Disney+/Fox/ABC, HBO Max/WarnerMedia/The CW,
Peacock/NBC/Comcast, Paramount+/CBS/Viacom)
◦ Anti-trust regulations loosened under President Trump’s FCC chairman Ajit Pai,
both in terms of corporate mergers and formerly marginal companies like Sinclair
Media amassing ownership of local network affiliates/imposing editorial control
over content
Case Study: The CW’s Complex
Caryn Murphy describes the CW as a broadcast network that adopts
the practices of a cable channel, noting that it is slower to cancel lowrated shows that may foster “niche” appeal over the long term
She suggests that programs like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Jane the
Virgin (along with our earlier case-study for this week, The Vampire
Diaries) may be created less for traditional broadcast TV and more for
dissemination on streaming platforms where they can foster
dedicated cult audiences
The CW has more recently “utilized comic book adaptations to
fundamentally shift its audience composition” to move away from an
audience comprised 70% of 18–34-year-old women toward “a
composition almost evenly split between male and female viewers”
in 2015
LO N G – F O R M T R A N S M E D I A
Cable “Legitimation”
Before/During the
Streaming Era
“Prestige” cable networks work to differentiate their brands
from “traditional” TV while others revert more heavily toward
“guilty pleasure” reality programming (some stations engage
both strategies simultaneously)
Media scholars Michael Newman and Elana Levine have
discussed this trend as “legitimation” – gender/classes
“quality” TV as more masculine, socially conscious, culturally
Shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad (AMC); The Wire (HBO);
The Shield (FX) designated in the early 2010s as signifiers that
television had entered a “second golden age”
Convergence and
Digital Technologies
Franchising and spinoffs
◦ Web fandoms gain increasing influence & traction during the
2000s/2010s but are also manipulated by corporate entities
◦ DVD sets “legitimate” and elevate certain TV programs and
allow for “binge” viewing, a precursor to streaming strategies
Transmedia storytelling
◦ Narratives across variety of media (web, broadcast, film, etc.)
◦ Hyper-diegesis and transmedia world-building where texts
cross multiple platforms to form universes/complex
mythologies (most prominently, the Marvel Cinematic
The CW as “Quality”
Youth Network
Network has worked to break away from its initially
“feminine” niche coding to establish a “quality” youth brand
based in genre subversion, superhero spectacle, and
“diverse” representations; gendered and classed appeal to
more male, upscale audiences
Evident in transition from more “soap operatic” productions
like The Vampire Diaries to “socially relevant” superhero
entries like Supergirl, The Flash, and Black Lightning
The Vampire Diaries
Premiered on the CW in 2009 and featured a narrative vaguely reminiscent of the
Twilight book/film series but with a more ironic, tongue-in-cheek tone; follows
the love triangle between the teenage mortal Elena Gilbert and the vampire
siblings Stefan and Damon Salvatore
Rebecca Williams understands The Vampire Diaries (and other CW fare of the
late 2000s/early 2010s) as inhabiting a culturally “in-between” space re:
horror/supernatural programming – neither a “quality” series like HBO’s True
Blood nor a critically delegitimated “teen-girl” media text such as Twilight
Reads all this critique as uniquely gendered/misogynistic – The Vampire Diaries
derided for its “soap operatic” positioning and visual/narrative appeal to teenage
girls (and young queer folks) but celebrated for its more “masculine” virtues –
complex storytelling, auteur (Kevin Williamson) showrunner, and cinematic
Supergirl and The CW’s
Superhero Franchises
The CW adopted Supergirl, a show that CBS originally aired
to try to expand its appeal to younger audiences, to
assemble it with other serialized DC properties and build a
CW/DC universe under the banner of corporate parent
WarnerMedia; allowed The CW to retain its investment in
feminist (or “postfeminist”) positioning while changing its
brand identity and capturing a more male audience
Cements The CW’s “identification with series that
encourage investment in a specific narrative universe or
mythology” and which bolster “multicultural”
representations while discouraging independent
productions outside of preestablished franchises/dominant
Prof. Ben Kruger-Robbins
Seminar: March 10, 2021

Initial reactions to Supergirl, “Pilot” and/or The Vampire Diaries “Family
Ties”? Caryn Murphy’s and Rebecca Williams’s writings?

How do these programs speak to cross-platform corporate marketing
and/or incorporate transmedia narrative strategies? How are they
linked aesthetically or thematically to the CW “brand”?

Who do these shows appear to be targeting and how so? In what ways
do they seem tied to either a “broadcast network” and/or “streaming”

In what ways do these episodes grapple with “diversity”? How does
each show attend to (or fail to address) “feminist” and/or “multicultural”
imperatives? To what ideological effect(s)?

How are these shows similar to or distinctive from earlier WB/UPN
programs like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and/or other network-branded
entries from earlier weeks? How do they encourage (or deter) consumer
citizenship amongst young viewers?

What are Rebecca Williams’s and/or Caryn Murphy’s
main points, arguments, or interventions? What
perspectives do these scholars offer on the programs
they invoke? How do they grapple with The CW’s
negotiated politics?

How do Williams and/or Murphy contextualize these
programs as “quality” youth television? What are the
social/political limitations tied to this categorization,
and how does the designation affect our readings of
The Vampire Diaries and Supergirl?

How do our authors describe the tensions or
contradictions around 2010s youth television and
modes of marketing/audience address? What might
be some limitations of their modes of inquiry?
What/who gets left out of the discussion?
PASSWORD: Vero221674

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Vampire Diaries Family Ties

Mockingly Damon

romance elements

viewership of youths

Supergirl series

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