Looking back at my television diet of the past twenty years or so, I can point to many moments of discomfort. They have come up frequently in some series, more fleetingly in others. Often, though, these moments seemed to test the range and limits of my affective responses.
Film Quarterly’s original webinar series showcasing the best in recent film and media studies publications continued on October 21st with a conversation between Page Views editor Bruno Guaraná (Boston University) and Lynn Spigel (Northwestern) about her new book, TV Snapshots: An Archive of Everyday Life (Duke University Press, 2022). Moderated by FQ editor-in-chief B. Ruby Rich.
In 1962, a middle-aged cookbook author named Julia Child made an impromptu omelet on educational television. On the program “I’ve Been Reading” to discuss her new book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, she commanded a hot plate and whisked up lunch for the tweed-clad academic host.
Page Views editor Bruno Guaraná discusses TV Snapshots: An Archive of Everyday Life with author Lynn Spigel.
In June 2021, the story broke that Donald Trump had asked advisers and lawyers to investigate whether the Department of Justice could probe sources of satirical late-night comedy, like Saturday Night Live, that made fun of him.1 The fact that Trump would melt down, usually on Twitter, after he saw satire critical of him had been surprising enough.
On November 3rd, Film Quarterly Editor-in-Chief B. Ruby Rich moderated a discussion of the changing conception of binge-watching during the Covid-19 pandemic with Neta Alexander (Colgate University), Tanya Horeck (Anglia Ruskin University), Tina Kendall (Anglia Ruskin University), and Kartik Nair (Temple University), whose special focus on binge-watching appears in the Fall 2021 issue of Film Quarterly.
Season 8 of Friends (NBC, 1994–2004) included an episode in which Monica and Chandler, en route to their honeymoon, are detained by TSA agents after Chandler mocks a TSA sign forbidding jokes about bombs. By the time the episode aired on October 11, 2001, however, the scene had been excised, its humor nullified in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. The scene’s later resurrection as bonus material for a DVD box set—and, inevitably, on video and social-media platforms—reflects the sort of time-sensitive relationship between comedy and context that Philip Scepanski explores in Tragedy Plus Time: National Trauma and Television Comedy.
Michael Boyce Gillespie leads a roundtable with scholars Jonathan W. Gray, Rebecca A. Wanzo, and Kristen Warner to discuss issues of medium, genre, fandom, and African American history in the highly regarded HBO series Watchmen. Characterizing the HBO series as a disobedient adaptation that modifies, extends, and redirects the world making of its source material, the famed twelve-issue comic-book series of the same name, written by Alan Moore and drawn by Dave Gibbons, Gillespie et al. explore the ways in which Watchmen remediates American history, starting with the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 that serves as the historical and ideological trigger that sets the series in motion. In a wide-ranging conversation that encompasses subjects including fan fiction, adaptation, cultural mythology, and black superheroes, the authors argue for Watchmen’s significance as some of the most consequential television of the century so far.
Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale (2017¬–) resonates strongly as an allegorical, science-fictional response to the Trump administration. The show refuses to accept the “new normal” as normal and acknowledges its audience’s simultaneous feelings of resistance and exhaustion. The program ultimately argues that, while hope alone is not enough to sustain anyone through the Trump years, it is the right place to start. Above all, the program points to the power of collective resistance. As Americans face down a fascist president, as they contend with babies torn from their mother’s bosoms at the border, as they confront a powerful resurgence in White Nationalist activism, the country has perhaps never felt more divided, or threatened. And yet the only way to defeat Trumpism is by standing together and collectively pushing back. The Handmaid’s Tale may not show viewers exactly how to do that, but it does show its audience exactly what it would feel like.
B. Ruby Rich From Film Quarterly Summer 2018, Volume 71, Number 4 Turning sixty is a landmark. No, not mine: it is Film Quarterly that this year marks its ripe old age and can reassert its claim as the oldest continuing film journal in the United States. Thanks to its dedicated contributors, staff, editorial boards, and, of course, the University of California Press, its publisher and steward, FQ remains young and vital even today, alive and kicking, and, I’d like to think, better than ever. Anniversary celebrations kicked off in Toronto in March, where the annual Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) conference offered an occasion for the FQ reception at SoHo House. The gathering was a wonderful mix of Toronto locals, FQ contributors and masthead notables, Criterion moguls, UC Press staff, and a kinship network of FQ friends and family. A slideshow of Film Quarterly through the ages was assembled and presented by FQ editorial assistant, Marc Francis. A first run of postcards drawn from four different editorial eras (Ernest Callenbach, Ann Martin, …