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12th Grade Assignment - Television Series Analysis

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Students completing this assignment will watch a single season of a television series and complete an analysis in the form of an oral response, a written response, or an artistic project. This assignment is suitable for 12th graders. Updated: 11/30/2020

Assignment Explanation with Topic Overview

While it is often emotionally satisfying to simply kick back and binge-watch a favorite television series on Netflix, there are benefits to thinking critically about what you're seeing on the tv screen. A television series analysis can help you learn more about the role of media literacy, the art of storytelling, and the type of messages and meaning expressed through performances, themes, and lighting and camera choices. It can also give you good practice with responding to art.

In this assignment, you will analyze a single season of a television series of your choosing. The assignment covers material presented in the chapter 12th Grade English: Media & Art Analysis Review. You can check out the lessons there for a detailed explanation of the concepts assessed in this assignment, such as messaging in television and film and responding to art forms.

Key Terms

  • Character arc: describes the inner journey a character will take during the course of the story
  • Setting: the place, time, and situation in which a story takes place
  • Explicit messages: messages with meanings that are openly and clearly expressed
  • Implicit messages: messages with meanings that are more inferred and are often less clearly stated
  • Subliminal messages: signals on television of which we are not even consciously aware
  • Supraliminal messages: signals on television of which we clearly recognize
  • Media literacy: allows the general population to be involved in current events to make sound judgements on issues
  • High key lighting: refers to lighter colors with less contrast between tones
  • Low key lighting: refers to darker colors with shadows and more contrast between tones
  • Multi-camera: involves two or more cameras which increased angles and perspectives
  • Single-camera: involves one camera which tends to immerse viewers in a scene
  • Story board: a group of successive drawings that serve as an outline for your series

Materials

  • Online access
  • Writing instruments
  • Writing paper

Time / Length

  • Three hours to review concepts / One full television season to complete project

Assignment Instructions for Students

Step One

Your assignment should include detailed analysis of a single season of a television series of your choosing.

  • You can choose a comedy, drama, or comedy-drama (also known as a 'dramedy').
  • When making your choice, consider how many characters your show contains and the depth of the character development.

Step Two

Describe the season arc, identify the various messages (both explicit and implicit) along with the plot and themes in the television series, and identify factors that influence interpretation.

Step Three

Interpret the meaning of various artistic choices related to:

  • Characters: Identify what the characters have in common, as well as how they differ. Explain how main characters change and grow throughout the season.
  • Lighting: Analyze the ways in which lighting is used to convey emotion and communicate with the audience.
  • Pacing: Decide if your series has a frenetic pace, a laid-back pace, or something in between those two extremes. Analyze how pacing impacts the story and the viewer.
  • Plot: Evaluate the plot. Does your series have an ongoing plot or a relatively new plot each episode? Distinguish between what are referred to in the business as ''A Plots'', ''B Plots'', and ''C Plots''.
  • Settings: Consider the setting. Is the setting static or does it frequently change? How does the setting impact the plot, tone, theme, and characters?
  • Themes: Identify key themes. Does your series deal with redemption, justice, sacrifice, transformation, or other themes on a regular basis?
  • Other visuals: Determine if your show is a single-camera show or a multi-camera show, and why it matters to the viewers.

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