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“All Happy Families”: The Sopranos and Television Culture in the Twenty-First Century

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image of Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

Since the 1980s, Cultural Studies have analyzed television in the context of the present. They have asked how soap operas and TV series contribute to the circulation of meanings and pleasures in everyday contexts. John Fiskes coined the concept television culture in his very successful book with the same title. Taking The Sopranos as an example, this article shows that quality TV is an outstanding contribution to television culture. The show is more complex, more layered and more intertextual than the shows of the 1980s that Fiske interpreted. The Sopranos is a postmodern cultural phenomenon that appeals to different groups of viewers. It is no longer only about the addicted fans, but also about critical viewers who want to better understand themselves and their lives, and also about connoisseurs and art enthusiasts to whom serial reception becomes a distinctive feature. This article comes to the conclusion that popular culture in the sense of Cultural Studies is still of important political significance in the twenty-first century.

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Media and Communications, Faculty of Cultural Sciences, Alpen-Adria Universitaet Klagenfurt


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