Mise-en-Scene (Discussion)

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  1. Group 1: What are icons? What is iconography? Discuss examples from in-class episodes of Designing Women, Girlfriends, or New Girl.
  2. Group 2: What narrative impact does the economic decision to shoot on studio sets have on sitcoms (with studio audiences) and soap operas? (What differences are there between the studio set-up of these two genres?) That is, how does set design shape the way stories are told?
    1. Of the sitcoms we've seen in class (The Andy Griffith Show, The Cosby Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, Designing Women, Girlfriends, New Girl), which are shot on studio sets with studio audiences?
  3. Lighting questions:
    1. Group 3: What are the characteristics of three-point lighting? What function does each "point" serve? Pretend you are a director of photography (DP). Describe a scene that might not use three-point lighting and explain why.
    2. Group 4: What is the difference between high-key and low-key lighting? And what is chiaroscuro? Pretend you are a director of photography (DP). Describe a scene that might use each of these techniques.
  4. Describe the mise-en-scene of the Northern Exposure scene with Joel and Jules. How are aspects of the characters (Joel, Jules, Maggie, Ed) communicated through mise-en-scene? That is, what would we know about the characters even if there were no dialogue in this scene?
    • Group 1: costume design, iconography
    • Group 2: set design
    • Group 3: lighting design
    • Group 4: blocking and figure movement


  1. Butler, Jeremy G. Television: Critical Methods and Applications. New York: Routledge, 2012.

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