'Genre' in general

  • 'genre' comes from the French word meaning 'type' or 'kind'

  • the expression is used in the study of textual media (film, painting, literary fiction, music, television) to show that groups of texts share conventions

  • example: 'the gangster film' (it deals with the criminal activities of usually American male gangsters or Mafia members)

  • but: it is not easy to categorise a text into one genre as different groups of people deals with it (film and TV makers, broadcasters and distributors, reviewers in magazines and newspapers, readers, audience)

  • so: we should keep in mind that GENRES and the names given to them are NOT FIXED

  • it is more important to be able to describe the features that groups of texts share

TV genres

  • traditionally texts in television are classified into broad generic categories as drama, comedy, light entertainment, arts, documentary, news, current affairs

DRAMA is usually classified into more specific subgenres

1. classic, single play or literary drama

- literary adaptions of literary novels

e.g. Jane Austin - "Pride and Prejudice"

- single play written for TV

e.g. Dennis Potter - "The Singing Detective" (UK)

2. Detective and police drama

- both deal in different ways with the defining of social deviance and the processes of law enforcement
- detective dramas tend to centre on a lone and often eccentric detective, whereas police dramas feature on a group of characters, usually on the police officers of a station

3. Domestic drama and soap opera

- domestic dramas centre on one certain place (home, workplace...) and are concerned with interpersonal relationships -> e.g. "Cold Feet"

- most ubiquitous form of domestic drama is the soap opera -> e.g. Coronation Street
- new form of domestic drama: telenovela

COMEDY: 'live' comedy shows, sketch format shows, sitcoms -> e.g. "Friends"

LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT: game shows; quiz shows, variety shows; chat-in shows; chat shows (US) and talk shows (UK) -> differentiation see Wikipedia

ARTS: classical music concerts, theatre productions, ballets, operas

DOCUMENTARIES

NEWS

CURRENT AFFAIRS: in contrast to the genre NEWS it is less segmented and explores issues in more depth

New generic forms

  • television culture changes and new generic television forms develop

  • e.g.: when broadcaster realised that people watch TV while preparing in the morning, they started "breakfast television" -> "Sky News Sunrise" on BSkyB (started in 1989)

  • another new genre might be called 'thirty something' drama, which deals with people in their thirties and shows their relationships in private and work life -> e.g. "Grey's Anatomy"

  • reality-shows -> "Big Brother"

  • telenovela -> "ugly betty"