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Small Screen, Big FeelsTelevision and Cultural Anxiety in the Twenty-First Century$
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Melissa Ames

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780813180069

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813180069.001.0001

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Screening Terror

Screening Terror

How 9/11 Affected Twenty-First-Century Televisual Fiction

(p.21) 1 Screening Terror
Small Screen, Big Feels

Melissa Ames

University Press of Kentucky

Chapter One analyzes how television not only responded to 9/11 immediately after the tragedy, but also how it responded (and continues to respond) to it years later through fictionalized dramas. By studying the presence of post-9/11 motifs (e.g. salvation, justice, fear, conspiracy) in 21st century fictional television narratives -- through quantitative data on programming trends and a close reading of one particular program -- this essay argues that such programs are important sites where the terrorist attack (and the cultural climate it sparked) is emotionally worked through. However, this chapter also suggests that television's reluctance to revise its post-9/11 narrative in order to reflect contemporary geopolitical realities may also contribute to the perpetual fear cycle shaping national discourse in the United States.

Keywords:   television drama, post-9/11, terrorism, tragedy, affect, trauma, fiction, trends

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