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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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Fictionalizing Ferguson in Prime-Time Dramas

Fictionalizing Ferguson in Prime-Time Dramas

Interrogating the Potentialities and Consequences of Remediating Events That Are Still in Progress

Chapter:
(p.140) 7 Fictionalizing Ferguson in Prime-Time Dramas
Source:
Small Screen, Big Feels
Author(s):

Melissa Ames

Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
DOI:10.5810/kentucky/9780813180069.003.0008

Chapter Seven narrows its focus to one particular year of programming that featured storylines about police brutality, inequity within the criminal justice system, and the #Black Lives Matter movement that has risen to speak out against both. Drawing upon trauma theory, this essay analyzes special episodes of CBS's The Good Wife (2009-2016) and ABC's Scandal (2010-2018) -- which have been referred to by media critics as each program's respective "Ferguson episode" -- and the first season of ABC's American Crime (2015-2017), a gritty crime anthology/mini-series which unflinchingly tackled racial conflict in its debut year. While there are reasons to be wary of attempts to fictionalize current race relations, this chapter ultimately argues that series that include thoughtful, complex storylines, and televisual aesthetics that underscore the social commentary contained with the program, may allow these issues not just to be understood, but felt.

Keywords:   The Good Wife, Scandal, American Crime, police brutality, #BlackLivesMatter, television drama, Ferguson, Racism, social media, trauma theory, affect

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