Production Studies (Discussion)

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Readings from Thompson & Mittell, How to Watch Television

  1. Groups 1 and 2: In "I Love Lucy: The Writer-Producer," Miranda J. Banks lists five things for which I Love Lucy is "celebrated." In addition to these, what significant shift in the behind-the-scenes TV-production hierarchy does she identify? What new title did this result in and which unheralded individual associated with I Love Lucy fit this title?
    • What are some recent examples of individuals who hold this title?
    • Why was the Screen Writers Guild wary of this development?
    • How does the episode we viewed play out what Miranda Banks calls the show's "basic plot idea"?
  2. Group 3: In "Modern Family: Product Placement," Kevin Sandler specifies two distinct attitudes toward the iPad's inclusion in the "Game Changer" episode. Summarize these "attitudes". Which do you think is correct and why?
    • Also, how have technological changes necessitated marketing changes that affect narrative? What new techniques have you yourself noticed in TV advertising—especially in online services such as Hulu and YouTube?
  3. Group 4: In "Modern Family: Product Placement," Kevin Sandler refers to Timothy Havens and Amanda D. Lotz's "industrialization of culture” framework as a way to understand the relationship between art and commerce in TV production. Explain Havens/Lotz's use of these terms: "mandates, conditions, and practices".
    • How can these terms be used to explain the iPad's product placement in "Game Changer"?
    • What is James Grant Hay's assessment of the episode and do you agree with it?


List two strength(s) of ideological criticism, cultural studies and/or production studies. List two weaknesses of these approaches. Answers in boldface are the best ones.

  • Group 1 on production studies:
    • S:
    • W:
  • Group 2 on Stuart Hall:
    • S:
    • W:
  • Group 3 on Stuart Hall:
    • S:
    • W:
  • Group 4 on production studies:
    • S:
    • W:


  1. Jeremy G. Butler, Television: Visual Storytelling and Screen Culture (NY: Routledge, 2018).
  2. Ethan Thompson & Jason Mittell, eds., How to Watch Television, first edition (NY: NYU Press, 2013) and second edition (2020):
    1. Miranda J. Banks, "I Love Lucy: The Writer-Producer," first edition, 244-252.
    2. Kevin Sandler, "Modern Family: Product Placement", first edition, 253-261.
    3. Daniel Marcus, "The Wonder Years: Televised Nostalgia," first edition, 223-231.
    4. Ritesh Mehta, "Master of None: Negotiated Decoding," second edition, 144-152.