Amanda D. Lotz is professor of Communication Studies and Screen Arts and Cultures at the University of Michigan. Her research examines the operations of the U.S. television and the representation of gender on television. She teaches courses about media industries and gender in media.
“Television is anything but dead, but we are now fully into the post-network era that Amanda D. Lotz projected when this book was first published. An incredibly prescient book, setting many of the terms through which television studies has understood these changes, the revised edition updates its account to reflect an age when Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon are now competing for Emmy and Peabody Awards, when television content is being funded through Kickstarter, and where web series are diversifying whose stories get told.”
—Henry Jenkins, co-author of Spreadable Media: Creating Meaning and Value in a Networked Culture
Many proclaimed the “end of television” in the early years of the twenty-first century, as capabilities and features of the boxes that occupied a central space in American living rooms for the preceding fifty years were radically remade. In this revised, second edition of her definitive book, Amanda D. Lotz proves that rumors of the death of television were greatly exaggerated and explores how new distribution and viewing technologies have resurrected the medium. Shifts in the basic practices of making and distributing television have not been hastening its demise, but are redefining what we can do with television, what we expect from it, how we use it—in short, revolutionizing it.
Television, as both a technology and a tool for cultural storytelling, remains as important today as ever, but it has changed in fundamental ways. The Television Will Be Revolutionized provides a sophisticated history of the present, examining television in what Lotz terms the “post-network” era while providing frameworks for understanding the continued change in the medium. The second edition addresses adjustments throughout the industry wrought by broadband delivered television such as Netflix, YouTube, and cross-platform initiatives like TV Everywhere, as well as how technologies such as tablets and smartphones have changed how and where we view. Lotz begins to deconstruct the future of different kinds of television—exploring how “prized content,” live television sports and contests, and linear viewing may all be “television,” but very different types of television for both viewers and producers.
Through interviews with those working in the industry, surveys of trade publications, and consideration of an extensive array of popular shows, Lotz takes us behind the screen to explore what is changing, why it is changing, and why the changes matter.
From the meth-dealing but devoted family man Walter White of AMC’s Breaking Bad, to the part-time basketball coach, part-time gigolo Ray Drecker of HBO’s Hung, depictions of male characters perplexed by societal expectations of men and anxious about changing American masculinity have become standard across the television landscape. Engaging with a wide variety of shows, including The League, Dexter, and Nip/Tuck, among many others, Amanda D. Lotz identifies the gradual incorporation of second-wave feminism into prevailing gender norms as the catalyst for the contested masculinities on display in contemporary cable dramas.
Examining the emergence of “male-centered serials” such as The Shield, Rescue Me, and Sons of Anarchy and the challenges these characters face in negotiating modern masculinities, Lotz analyzes how these shows combine feminist approaches to fatherhood and marriage with more
traditional constructions of masculine identity that emphasize men’s role as providers. She explores the dynamics of close male friendships both in groups, as in Entourage and Men of a Certain Age, wherein characters test the boundaries between the homosocial and homosexual in their relationships with each other, and in the dyadic intimacy depicted in Boston Legal and Scrubs. Cable Guys provides a much needed look into the under-considered subject of how constructions of masculinity continue to evolve on television.