FILM 1405: Critical Research Essay

1. Jason Mittell argues that “Complex TV” is characterized by an “operational aesthetic” whereby viewers not only take pleasure in a narrative but also in learning how that narrative is constructed. Select a television program from this mode of storytelling that you think is great.

Write an essay that outlines and explains why it’s so great by evaluating and analyzing its “operational aesthetic,” that is, how the program works. What conventions does it rely on to tell its stories and cultivate viewer comprehension? What conventions does it innovate? What narrative special effects does it use and to what end? Narrative complexity is an achievement; your essay should identify and analyze the process and techniques by which your chosen case study achieves its aesthetic success. For your analysis, you may consider one program as a whole, or focus on one episode in particular.