This course was a great foray into understanding and enjoying British television, but in many ways, I thought it was even more interesting as a cultural study. TV, as the main populist form of entertainment in most countries, as it turns out, is a fantastic way to glimpse into other cultures and understand their trends and differences and similarities between that country and another.
We spent a lot of time comparing and contrasting American and British television and most of the conclusions we cam to were all about the cultures of the two countries as well as industrial practices and production methods. From darker forms of humor to an interest in class interaction, the differences we noticed in British and American television tell us a lot about the differences in British and American culture, generally. At the same time, the shared popularity of reality television and a love of the mockumentary style showed that Brits and Americans aren’t so different after all.
And then, of course, we have shows that are beloved on both sides of the Atlantic (and around the world) like Downton Abbey and Sherlock that bridge the cultural divide and seem to have something interesting to say about what viewers want in their television regardless of country or culture.
A lot of what we were doing in comparing the television of these two countries was speculation as none of us are British, but I think this class proved fascinating in understanding British culture and how and why certain trends became popular over there.
As something of an Anglophile, I thought I had a decent understanding of British television before this class. As it turns out, I had a lot to learn, and thank god Netflix is full of British television because my summer “To Watch” list just got a whole lot longer.