The magic of television: Thinking through magical realism in recent TV

  • Lynne Joyrich Dept. of Modern Culture and Media, Brown University
Keywords: Fantasy, Magical realism, Reality, Television


After decades in which television has been marked as more banal than bewitching, recalling the "magic of television" is more likely to evoke a sense of wonder for the perceived innocence of an earlier televisual audience than for television itself. With TV offered on demand, captured with DVRs, downloaded or watched streaming on the Web, purchased as DVD sets, miniaturized for private screenings, jumbo-sized for public spectacles, monitored in closed circuits, and accessed for open forums, once-mysterious television flows have flowed to new media forms, giving TV an appearing/disappearing, now-you-see-it/now-you-don't magical act of its own. Has TV disappeared, or has it multiplied—redoubled each time it's sawed in half, replicating like rabbits pulled out of a hat? Is it still TV or something else when programs are screened (as if through a magic curtain) via today's delivery systems?

Author Biography

Lynne Joyrich, Dept. of Modern Culture and Media, Brown University
Lynne Joyrich is Associate Professor of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University. A member of the Camera Obscura editorial collective, she is the author of Re-viewing Reception: Television, Gender, and Postmodern Culture (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1996) and of a number of articles and book chapters on film, television, feminist, queer, and cultural studies in various journals and anthologies.