Studies on contemporary TV (Master in Film and Screen Studies)

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Program details
Subject: Studies on contemporary TV
Course: Second
Semester: 2
Modality: Compulsory
Professor: Enric Alberó


In order to understand the current state of television serial fiction, it is first of all necessary to pay attention to the inseparable evolution of the technology that supports it, of the models of consumption and of the different narrative and aesthetic forms that coexist within a format that is increasingly diverse and difficult to delimit. We intend, on the one hand, to trace a journey through the TV series that have changed the medium in order to map the present, while at the same time seeking to relate ‘television’ with the latest trends in contemporary cinema, without forgetting the influence of other expressive/narrative media such as sound fiction or social networks.


Based on narrative and formal analysis, the course aims to enable students to identify the main features of teleseriality so that, by viewing different case studies, they can endorse or refute the permanence of certain patterns and traditions. In any case, the aim is to take an unprejudiced approach to television serial fiction that will help students to develop the necessary analytical skills that will enable them to relate the (very diverse) forms of contemporary telefiction to other audiovisual disciplines. It is, therefore, a subject in which transversality and comparative analysis will be fundamental in order to achieve a further objective: the production of critical texts (regardless of their format) in which intertextuality and the ability to establish relevant interrelations with other forms of creation will be paramount.


  • UNIT 0. What are you watching?
    • The students propose. The party of democracy: let’s choose two series. The teacher arranges.
  • UNIT 1. Brief history of seriality
    • The serial inheritance in television fiction: distinctive features. The serialised novel. Explanatory excursus: the serial. The 19th century plausible novel. Other forms of the serial: serial cinema, the comic strip and the radio soap opera. A brief note on the podcast.
  • UNIT 2. The audiovisual context.
    • Technology, consumption and storytelling: joint evolution. The war between film and television in the 1940s and 1950s in the United States: from denial to antitrust. The Nielsen index, home video and cable television. The arrival of streaming and the outbreak of streaming wars. The Spanish case: from Globomedia to Netflix.
  • UNIT 3. Formats and structure(s)
    • The television film. Serial fiction: miniseries, limited series, anthology series and series: examples and differences. Structure(s): cohabiting models. A) publicity, recurrence and absence of diachrony B) durations, digital effects, genre and risk: small screens and science fiction.
  • UNIT 4. Authorship in television: a theory of displacement.
    • The producer’s milieu. The empire of the scriptwriter. The directors are coming! Proposal for a combined model: the showrunner, collaborative authorship and the demiurge.
  • UNIT 5. Intersections I. Cinema and series.
    • Television and the great directors: influences and legacy. The television generation. The way back: from cinema to platforms.
  • UNIT 6. Intersections II. Series and cinema.
    • Narrative ecosystems: serial mechanisms in the Marvel and DC universes. Comics, mediascape and recombination. Two-way paved road: adaptations.
  • UNIT 7. Intersections III. Series and social media.
    • The arrival of big data: the influence of data analysis on content creation. Experiential television or the viewer as scriptwriter. Aesthetic contaminations: how YouTube, Instagram or TikTok infiltrated series.
  • INTERLUDIO. Back to Topic 0. Joint correction. Recalculate route.
  • UNIT 8. Narrative analysis I.
    • The validity of antiquity and the perpetuation of the ‘action genres’. Sitcoms and comfort. Complicating drama: ode to the multiplot, the soap opera of the 70s and 80s. The procedural: reinventing the wheel (of recognition).
  • UNIT 9. Narrative analysis II.
    • Flexi-narrative and Complex TV: on Robin Nelson and Jason Mittel. Combinatory plots, self-awareness and self-referentiality. Character design, internal logic and structural coherence.
  • UNIT 10. Aesthetic analysis I. Derivations from classical cinema.
    • Generalities about the concept of mise-en-scène in television series: the illustrated script versus the power of the image. The inexhaustible magic of the genius of the system: A) light and drama; B) distance; C) height; D) bodies and framing; E) mannerist allusions.
  • UNIT 11. Aesthetic analysis II. Disruptions and collisions.
    • The series that changed television. Trends in contemporary cinema in television serial fiction. Documentary vs. reportage: subject and form. The explosion of true crime: documentary and/or essay?


-15% participation in the sessions: collaborate in the analyses, present proposals for debate and viewing.

-20% presentation of a critical text (A) on a complete season of series 1 previously agreed with the students (Topic 0). Submission in the middle of the course.

-30% presentation of a critical text (B) on a complete season of series 2 previously agreed with the students (Topic 0). Submission in the last session of the course.

-35% presentation of a critical text. On the last day of class, the teacher will select a pilot episode released that month (which the students will watch on their own) and then prepare an analytical written text of 4000 characters (spaces included) to be handed in within two working days.

NOTE 1: Texts A and B may take the form of a written, audio-visual or audio-visual essay.

-NOTE 2: Throughout the course, the teacher will introduce each of the analytical tools necessary to carry out the practical work on the basis of various case studies.

-NOTE 3: Anyone who does not attend 80% of the classes will not receive any marks for participation (15%).

-NOTE 4: In addition to the films that will be shown in the classroom, there will be other compulsory films that students will have to watch on their own and an additional list related to the course contents.


Balló, Jordi y Pérez, Xavier (2005). Yo ya he estado aquí: ficciones de la repetición. Barcelona. Ed. Anagrama.

Cascajosa, Concepción (2016). La cultura de las series. Barcelona. Ed. Laertes.

Garín, Manuel (2017). Heridas infinitas: estructura narrativa y dinámicas seriales en la ficción televisiva. L’Atalante. Julio-Diciembre 2017.

Huerta, Miguel Ángel (ed.) (2020). Revolución seriada: el gran cambio de la ficción televisiva en España. Ed. Tirant Humanidades.

Huerta, Miguel Ángel y Sangro, Pedro (ed.) (2018). La estética televisiva en las series contemporáneas. Valencia. Ed. Tirant Humanidades.

Mittel, Jason (2015). Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling. NYU Press.

Neira, Elena (2015). La otra pantalla. Barcelona. Ed. UOC

Neira, Elena (2020). Streaming Wars. La nueva televisión. Barcelona. Libros Cúpula.

Nelson, Robin (1997). TV Drama In Transition. Forms, Values and Cultural Change. Palgrave Macmillan.

Palacio, Manuel (2001). Historia de la televisión en España. Gedisa.

Sánchez-Biosca, Vicente (1995). Una cultura de la fragmentación. Pastiche, relato y cuerpo en el cine y en la televisión. Valencia. Ed. Filmoteca de la Generalitat Valenciana.

Zunzunegui, Santos (2016). La mirada cercana. Shangrila.