What constitutes quality TV, and how/when/why did it come about? Include examples of which shows the authors below consider to be quality TV. 1. Sarah Cardwell, “Is Quality Television Any Good? Generic Distinctions, Evaluations and the Troubling Matter of Critical Judgement”; 2. Jane Feur, “HBO and the Concept of Quality TV”; 3. Deborah L. Jaramillo, “The Family Racket: AOL Time Warner, HBO, The Sopranos, and the Construction of a Quality Brand.”

What constitutes quality TV has to do with style, themes, characters, and, some might argue, the type of channel that’s airing the show. Why and when quality TV came about could relate to the rise of subscription models like HBO.

Expert Answers

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To discuss what constitutes quality TV and talk about how, when, and why it came about, one should review the three articles in question and synthesize their ideas.

Consider starting with commonalities. All three pieces identify the notion of quality TV with the subscription channel HBO. In her article, Sarah Cardwell identifies Six Feet Under as an example of quality TV. Jane Feuer, too, focuses on Six Feet Under and its link to quality TV. Deborah Jaramillo focuses on an HBO show as well. The HBO show she spotlights is the mafia drama The Sopranos.

For Jaramillo and Feuer, quality TV constitutes a connection to acclaimed cinema. Jaramillo links The Sopranos to praised movies like Goodfellas and The Godfather. Feuer sees Six Feet Under as regularly alluding to iconoclastic European filmmakers such as Ingmar Bergman.

As with Feuer, Cardwell believes that quality TV involves an absorbing style, a willingness to take on difficult themes, and the presence of complex characters. Cardwell, unlike Feuer and Jaramillo, seems more concerned with the distinction between “quality” TV and “good” TV. Feuer and Jaramillo place more stress on how quality TV manifests across different types of TV channels.

As for when and why quality TV came about, look to Jaramillo’s argument that quality TV has a correlation to the onset of subscription channels that are less censored and don’t require as many episodes per season.

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