Pushing the envelope: “edgy” TV drama

Robin Nelson

in State of Play

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780719073106
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701119 | DOI:
Pushing the envelope: “edgy” TV drama

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This chapter explores a risky, ‘edgy’ television which flouts the historic tendency for small-screen fictions to be conservative, particularly in the USA where a Least Objectionable Programming (LOP) strategy dominated the ‘network era’. Three chosen examples of ‘edgy’ television, QaF, comes out of a small independent company in the UK, whilst SatC and Carnivale are produced by a substantial, and even more independent, subscription channel in the USA. In the past, commercial companies were thought to be chasing large audiences to please advertisers in a context where a disposition to bland product to achieve ratings held sway. Niche marketing opportunities today allow bold companies to aim to attract primary audiences with distinctive product and only subsequently to seek to build bigger audiences by new means of secondary distribution. Given the nature of the younger, more affluent target-market demographic, there is room furthermore for products which set out to shock. As these examples suggest, creative treatments can render the material such as to elicit a shock of new insight rather than merely shock for the sake of shock.

Keywords: edgy television; small-screen fictions; Least Objectionable Programming strategy; network era; QaF; SatC; Carnivale

Chapter.  17788 words. 

Subjects: Television

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