Television’s Second Golden Age: The Politics and International Relations of the HBO Era

Conference: The Asian Conference on Media, Communication & Film (MediAsia2022)
Title: Television’s Second Golden Age: The Politics and International Relations of the HBO Era
Stream: Film Criticism and Theory
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Joel Campbell, Troy University, Japan


Television has undergone a major revolution, just as internet streaming and sharing sites have taken over the way television is consumed. The last twenty years have seen some of the most critically praised and popular series produced for the small screen. The depth of stories, excellent character development, and high production values make these some of the most impactful TV shows ever. Leading the way were the cable television providers such as HBO and Showtime, but recently steaming services themselves, such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu have entered the space. This paper examines four noteworthy television properties: The Sopranos, The Wire, Breaking Bad, and Game of Thrones. These series’ use of political concepts and themes help illuminate domestic political concerns in governance, policing, and democratic decision making. We can view international relations through these series’ reflections on human nature, levels of analysis, and application of shows’ interpersonal dynamics to interactions among states. This paper uses constructivist theory to come to grips with changing norms, values, institutions, and inter-subjective understandings of television genres. It concludes with a general guide for grasping the politics of television’s Second Golden Age.

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