We “other victorians”? Novelistic remains, therapeutic devices, contemporary televisual dramas

Journal Article (Journal Article)

In reference to the work of Michel Foucault and to residual Victorian novelistic features, this essay explores the biopolitical dimension of contemporary televisual dramas, focusing on the popular crime genre as seen in The Sopranos (1999– 2007), Breaking Bad (2008–2013), and The Fall (2013–2016). Emphasizing the confessional context of criminality and policing, we demonstrate how such shows rely on the conventions of modern psychological discourse in depicting criminals, thus foregrounding what Eva Illouz in Saving the Modern Soul (2008) has called the “therapeutic emotional style.” By updating aspects of D. A. Miller’s conception of the policing plot in The Novel and the Police (1988), we argue that confession in contemporary televisual dramas exemplifies a cultural transition from power as force to power as communication. The ascendance of communicative power pathologizes aspects of masculinity and introduces a new dramatic/narra-tive device: the therapeutic couplet.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Chow, R; Sarfan, A

Published Date

  • January 1, 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 150 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 118 - 133

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1548-6192

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0011-5266

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1162/DAED_a_01837

Citation Source

  • Scopus