Rhetorical Analysis “As Seen on TV – Television and Film”

Assignment Overview

Since much of our understanding about critical categories of difference— race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability, culture—comes from this popular medium, analyzing TV depictions more closely can lend valuable insight into how our language and understanding of different groups is shaped or affirmed. Your goal for this assignment is to rhetorically analyze a television show from the perspective of examining how one or more of the critical categories is portrayed on the show and how those portrayals function within culture. Some characters and situations may cross boundaries between categories and your analysis may focus on one or more of these categories as they are relevant to the particular argument you make. The final analysis will be an essay of 800 – 1000 words and will include at least two relevant visuals.

 Completing the Assignment

Part of this assignment will require a brief description of the show; its overall premise and characters will need to be described. Also, you will need to focus your analysis in some way. For example, you could chose to discuss a particular character, a relationship between two characters, a way in which the show regularly depicts a certain group or situation, the show’s premise, etc. The main goal of your analysis should be to look critically at the messages (both overt and hidden) that the show sends in regards to the critical categories and how those messages are functioning within the show itself and in the culture overall.

This assignment will be completed in four stages:

  1. Submit a typed thesis statement and be prepared to discuss the thesis in your individual conference with me during week 9-10. In your thesis statement, you should identify the show you chose to analyze (refer to page 2 for a list of shows to choose from), the critical category (or categories) you will examine for the show and a claim you will argue in your paper.
  2. Compose a working draft and conduct a peer review (review completed in class)
  3. A final draft of the essay

All stages must be completed to receive full credit for the assignment.

Some critical questions to ask as you analyze the show:

  • Are the depictions of the critical categories realistic or stereotypical? How?
  • Are these depictions harmful? Useful? How? Why?
  • Are images, ideas, and language in society being shaped or affirmed by the depictions you see on TV? How? Give examples.
  • Do you see any mixed messages being presented? If so, explain.
  • Why might the producers/writers/studios/etc. want to present the characters and situations the way they do?

Choosing a Show for Analysis

Refer to the list below for shows you may analyze. The shows have been chosen to aid you in an analysis. Although other shows are certainly worthy of analysis, this assignment is intended to look at how television influences language and culture and these specific choices will help you do that more effectively.

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Thesis statement:

Desperate Housewives has depicted the various critical categories such as race, gender, sexuality and social standing through its characters, setting and the plot. In the story, we get to see women treated like sexual beings, there to only please men. The scenes depict gender roles while sexuality has been viewed to cause marriages breakups and incidences of infidelity to increase. Race is also a sensitive issue that needs to be addressed because it causes conflict in the society. Nonetheless, class is a common factor that should be embraced.

Introduction and Episode Summary

Desperate housewives” is an American TV show created by Merc Cherry and produced by Cherry productions and ABC Studios. The show is set in Wisteria Lane which is a fictional suburban American town based in Fairview in Eagle State which is also fictional. It is chiefly meant to reach out to married couples, engaged couples and those that are dating. The purpose of this show is to show people what their society has become and how married people should and should not behave so as to keep their marriages intact……

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