Television Criticism Project

DUE DATE: May 12, 2016

The major work of the semester involves writing a formal critique of a single season of a television show of your choice. You will pick a show for which you have unlimited access to and that you will not mind viewing several times. Select a program that you want to question or one with which you are familiar. It is perfectly fine to pick a show that is one of your favorites. For example, we’ll be discussing Freaks and Geeks extensively in class this semester because it’s one of my favorites, I don’t mind watching it over and over, and I love talking about it.


You should read my description of what a good blog entry looks like before you start writing any of your blog entries. I have also written about how to navigate this blog site so that you understand how to create and submit your blog entries.

Your goals for this project “are to understand the various elements of a television program, to analyze it, to interpret possible meanings, to judge the quality of the program, and to communication your assessment in writing.” You will write a final blog post at the end of the semester that demonstrates that you have met these goals. In addition, you will present the major findings of your project during the final exam period at the end of the semester.

Throughout the semester, you will prepare for the writing of your final project by writing blog posts on our class blog site ( Your blog posts will be available for the public to read. These posts will allow you to start thinking about various aspects of your chosen television program so that you can write the final project at the end of the semester.

I will grade the five blog posts, giving you feedback for revisions so that information from them may be included in the final project. The detailed requirements for each of the intermediate posts can be found by following the links below:

  1. Critical Orientation (blog post is due February 4): You can also read more about this section on p. 182 of the textbook.
  2. Narrative Structure (blog post is due March 1): You can also read more about this section on pp. 182-188 of the textbook.
  3. Representations of Reality (blog post is due March 24): You can also read more about this section on pp. 188-192 of the textbook.
  4. Analysis (blog post is due April 8): You can also read more about this section on pp.192- 194 of the textbook.
  5. Judgment (blog post is due April 26): You can also read more about this section on p. 194 of the textbook.

The details of the final presentation can be found here.

To communicate your overall evaluation of your television program, you will write a final blog post that uses some of your thinking from the five intermediate blog posts. You will address the following six topic areas in the final blog post:

  1. An introduction with
    • a thesis statement which articulates what your argument is (what you will demonstrate or prove in your criticism project),
    • a statement of the purpose of your critique, and,
    • material that orients the reader to your topic;
  2. A description of the television show and a summary of the narrative;
  3. Production information about the show’s creators, cast, and popularity;
  4. A description of your critical approach to the show and the questions you chose to ask;
  5. Your interpretation of the categories you have chosen to analyze, with examples from the program that describe and clarify what you found; and,
  6. Your overall evaluation and your contribution to understanding the program.

You must use the vocabulary of criticism in this post. For example, when you discuss narrative, use terms such as “enigma,” “delay,” and “resolution,” and when you talk about allusions to other media, use the term “intertextuality.” It is not sufficient, however, to just use the vocabulary. You must explain what it means and how it is presented in the show that you are critiquing. If you use material created by others (articles, journals, blogs, books, videos, etc.), be sure you link to the original source. Remember that your goal is to offer insights to your audience in order to help them see television in a new way.

Chapter 10 of our textbook (pp. 197-210) contains a sample criticism of the television program Parenthood.

Rubric for the final post:

  • _____ 5 pts        Includes all six topic areas, no spelling/grammatical errors, no typos
  • _____ 5 pts        Vocabulary demonstrates a clear understanding of the theoretical material of the class
  • _____ 5 pts        Introduction contains an arguable thesis statement
  • _____ 5 pts        Introduction contains a purpose statement and orienting material that relates to the rest of the post
  • _____ 10 pts      Descriptions of the television program and its narrative are understandable even to someone who has never seen the show and mention the significant details concerning the show
  • _____ 5 pts        Production information provides useful background for understanding the show and/or the argument of the post
  • _____ 10 pts      Critical approach used is appropriate for the questions being asked as well as for the thesis of the paper
  • _____ 10 pts      Questions asked are appropriate for the argument proposed in the thesis statement
  • _____ 10 pts      Interpretations of the show makes sense given the description of the show
  • _____ 20 pts      Interpretations of the show are illustrated with significant and appropriate examples from the show
  • _____ 10 pts      Evaluation of the show and its meanings makes sense given the information provided in the post
  • _____ 5 pts        Conclusion appropriately summarizes the argument made in the post
  • _____ 100 pts   TOTAL



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