Agents of change : Enlightened, HBO and the crisis of brand identity in the post-network era




Swords, Collins David

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As a result of changing cultural, economic and technological factors, television always exists in a perpetual state of transformation. The fragmentation of the mass audience and the disintegration of the network oligarchy catalyzed the emergence of a multi-channel universe and niche cable markets in the post-network era. HBO, perhaps the most successful premium cable channel to emerge during the changing TV landscape, implemented a subscription-service economic model, enabling it to produce uncensored, commercial free content unavailable on broadcast television. HBO has since been labeled as the leading purveyors of quality, auteurist-centered TV. For this report, I analyze how HBO has been constructed in the realm of academic discourse. Using Enlightened and showrunner Mike White as a case study, I examine how the series conforms to and deviates from HBO's established brand and reflects the network's struggle to redefine itself in the post-network era. Ultimately, I aim to reveal the mythologized, idealized and manufactured culture of production at HBO and examine how journalistic discourse surrounding the series presents the HBO brand identity in a state of crisis and transition.



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