Prescription TV

Therapeutic Discourse in the Hospital and at Home

Prescription TV

Book Pages: 216 Illustrations: 15 illustrations Published: June 2012

Author: Joy V. Fuqua

Media Studies > TV, Medicine and Health > Medical Humanities

Tracing the history of television as a therapeutic device, Joy V. Fuqua describes how TVs came to make hospitals seem more like home and, later, "medicalized" the modern home. She examines the introduction of television into the private hospital room in the late 1940s and 1950s and then moves forward several decades to consider the direct-to-consumer prescription drug commercials legalized in 1997. Fuqua explains how, as hospital administrators and designers sought ways of making the hospital a more inviting, personalized space, TV sets came to figure in the architecture and layout of health care facilities. Television manufacturers seized on the idea of therapeutic TV, specifying in their promotional materials how TVs should be used in the hospital and positioned in relation to the viewer. With the debut of direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising in the late 1990s, television assumed a much larger role in the medical marketplace. Taking a case-study approach, Fuqua uses her analysis of an ad campaign promoting Pfizer's Viagra to illustrate how television, and later the Internet, turned the modern home into a clearinghouse for medical information, redefined and redistributed medical expertise and authority, and, in the process, created the contemporary consumer-patient.


“Overall, Prescription TV makes a valuable addition to Television Studies and the growing body of health communication literature.  Fuqua successfully brings attention both to the materiality and discursibity of television, without privileging discursive constructs and framing television as a mere conduit for ideology.  In so doing, she reminds us that in a society where popular media deeply penetrates everyday life, health becomes both a discursive construct and a social practice we must constantly engage with.” — Yukari Seko, Canadian Journal of Communication

“This study will be useful primarily for those involved in health care—for example, marketers and publicists, rehabilitation personnel, and health communicators—and those interested in the intersection of media studies and other disciplines. Summing Up: Recommended.” — R. Ray, Choice

"Prescription TV is a beautifully written and persuasive account of television’s medical applications at home and in the hospital over the decades. Joy V. Fuqua's prose moves deftly between individual case studies and critical analysis of the forces that have transformed TV viewers into patients and consumers. Medicine today is big business, and anyone interested in the way television structures power within the health industry should read this groundbreaking book." — Anna McCarthy, author of The Citizen Machine: Governing by Television in 1950s America

"After reading Prescription TV, you’ll never watch ads for Viagra—or any other prescription drug—in the same way again. Joy V. Fuqua navigates the historical, material, and cultural dimensions of television’s role in cultivating the modern consumer-patient. She demonstrates how television is implicated in professional and colloquial discourses of health, medicine, and consumer agency, and how it has reconfigured ideas about medical and therapeutic space in the hospital and the home." — Mimi White, author of Tele-Advising: Therapeutic Discourse in American Television


Availability: In stock
Price: $24.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Joy V. Fuqua is Assistant Professor of Media Studies at Queens College, City University of New York.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Introduction. Television, Hospital, Home 1

1. Convalescent Companions: Hospital Entertainment before Television 23

2. Television Goes to the Modern Hospital 49

3. Positioning the Patient: The Spatial Therapeutics of Hospital Television 71

4. Television in and out of the Hospital: Broadcasting Directly to the Consumer-Patient 93

5. Mediated Agency: Consumer-Patients and Pfizer's Viagra Commercials 115

Conclusion. Our Bodies, Our (TV) Selves 141

Notes 155

Selected Bibliography 187

Index 197
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5126-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5115-3
Publicity material