Beyond Representation: Television Drama and the Politics and by Geraldine Harris

By Geraldine Harris

Beyond Representation poses the query as to if during the last thirty years there were symptoms of 'progress' or 'progressiveness' within the illustration of 'marginalised' or subaltern id different types inside of tv drama in Britain and the USA. In doing so, it interrogates the various key assumptions about the dating among aesthetics and the politics of id that experience prompted and trained tv drama feedback in this interval.

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Additional info for Beyond Representation: Television Drama and the Politics and Aesthetics of Identity

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In order to achieve this, I start by reflecting back on some of the various ways that the terms ‘feminine’, ‘feminism’, ‘postfeminism’ and ‘postmodern feminism’ have been defined and interpreted in the academic and public spheres, with reference to both politics and aesthetics. My emphasis is on how and why a confusion of these terms might have emerged and allowed for an appropriation, depoliticisation and trivialisation of the feminist debate. I also consider the ways that these issues can be seen to be played out in and around television works from the 1980s and 1990s and look briefly at Maureen Chadwick’s Two Golden Balls (1994) and Fay Weldon’s Big Women (1998) before focusing in detail on Ally McBeal (1997–2002).

As Ruth Frankenberg and Lata Mani indicate, ‘The integrity of the Subject may have been exposed as a ruse of bourgeois ideology by philosophers and cultural critics but law, to take one powerful institution, still operates as if this were not the case’ (Frankenberg and Mani, 2001: 483). Equally, as Natalie Fenton asserts, ‘in the present day political [. qxd 40 20/7/06 11:35 AM Page 40 Phil's G4 Phil's G4:Users:phil:Public Beyond representation suggests that, “essentialist identities continue to be evoked and often deeply felt” ’ (Fenton, 2000: 734).

She points out that all these characteristics are traditionally understood ‘to concern the very fabric of the feminine’ – hence, alongside changes in work patterns, the perception of a ‘feminisation’ of all aspects of public life (675). For Baudrillard, the media and especially television are key factors in producing and disseminating this ‘feminisation’. Significantly, in a 1988 article for Screen discussing ‘new traditionalism and postfeminism’, in relation to a rash of ‘women centred’ dramas on North American television, Elspeth Probyn quoted a Newsweek article stating that, ‘The feminisation of television has surprisingly little to do with feminism’ (Probyn, 1997: 130).

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