Seeing Through the Eighties

Television and Reaganism

Seeing Through the Eighties

Console-ing Passions: Television and Cultural Power

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Book Pages: 184 Illustrations: 87 illustrations Published: October 1995

Author: Jane Feuer

Cultural Studies, Media Studies > TV

The 1980s saw the rise of Ronald Reagan and the New Right in American politics, the popularity of programs such as thirtysomething and Dynasty on network television, and the increasingly widespread use of VCRs, cable TV, and remote control in American living rooms. In Seeing Through the Eighties, Jane Feuer critically examines this most aesthetically complex and politically significant period in the history of American television in the context of the prevailing conservative ideological climate. With wit, humor, and an undisguised appreciation of TV, she demonstrates the richness of this often-slighted medium as a source of significance for cultural criticism and delivers a compelling decade-defining analysis of our most recent past.
With a cast of characters including Michael, Hope, Elliot, Nancy, Melissa, and Gary; Alexis, Krystle, Blake, and all the other Carringtons; not to mention Maddie and David; even Crockett and Tubbs, Feuer smoothly blends close readings of well-known programs and analysis of television’s commercial apparatus with a thorough-going theoretical perspective engaged with the work of Baudrillard, Fiske, and others. Her comparative look at Yuppie TV, Prime Time Soaps, and made-for-TV-movie Trauma Dramas reveals the contradictions and tensions at work in much prime-time programming and in the frustrations of the American popular consciousness. Seeing Through the Eighties also addresses the increased commodification of both the producers and consumers of television as a result of technological innovations and the introduction of new marketing techniques. Claiming a close relationship between television and the cultures that create and view it, Jane Feuer sees the eighties through televison while seeing through television in every sense of the word.


“Feuer puts essential 80s viewing — “trauma dramas,” thirtysomething, and Dynasty, for example in a critical bag with postmodernism and cultural theory, shakes it all up, and instead of getting the usual jumbled mess of jargon, pours out something cunningly made and smart.” — Sight & Sound

“This accessibly written book serves as a spirited and intelligent guide to a remarkably productive period of both prime-time programming and scholarly activity.” — William Boddy , Journal of American History

"Seeing Through the Eighties is a book by one of the best TV critics in the business. A work of real TV scholarship, it is also a treasure trove of information about programming in the eighties—a kind of critical companion to TV Guide for the decade." — Jane Gaines, editor of Classical Hollywood Narrative


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Price: $24.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Jane Feuer teaches film studies at the University of Pittsburgh. She is the author of The Hollywood Musical and coeditor of MTM: "Quality Televison."

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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-1687-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1675-6
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