Normporn: Queer Viewers and the TV That Soothes Us (Postmillennial Pop #38) (Paperback)

Normporn: Queer Viewers and the TV That Soothes Us (Postmillennial Pop #38) By Karen Tongson Cover Image

Normporn: Queer Viewers and the TV That Soothes Us (Postmillennial Pop #38) (Paperback)


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An irreverent look at the love-hate relationship between queer viewers and mainstream family TV shows like Gilmore Girls and This Is Us

After personal loss, political upheaval, and the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us craved a return to business as usual, the mundane, the middlebrow. We turned to TV to find these things. For nearly forty years, network television has produced a constant stream of "cry-along" sentimental-realist dramedies designed to appeal to liberal, heterosexual, white America. But what makes us keep watching, even though these TV series inevitably fail to reflect who we are?

Revisiting soothing network dramedies like Parenthood, Gilmore Girls, This Is Us, and their late-80s precursor, thirtysomething, Normporn mines the nuanced pleasures and attraction-repulsion queer viewers experience watching liberal family-centric shows. Karen Tongson reflects on how queer cultural observers work through repeated declarations of a "new normal" and flash lifestyle trends like "normcore," even as the absurdity, aberrance, and violence of our culture intensifies. Normporn allows us to process how the intimate traumas of everyday life depicted on certain TV shows--of love, life, death, and loss--are linked to the collective and historical traumas of their contemporary moments, from financial recessions and political crises to the pandemic.

Normporn asks, what are queers to do--what is anyone to do, really--when we are forced to confront the fact of our own normalcy, and our own privilege, inherited or attained? The fantasies, the utopian impulses, and (paradoxically) the unreality of sentimental realist TV drama creates a productive tension that queer spectators in particular take pleasure in, even as--or precisely because--it lulls us into a sense of boredom and stability that we never thought we could want or have. .
Karen Tongson is Professor of Gender & Sexuality Studies, English, and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. She is the author of Why Karen Carpenter Matters and Relocations: Queer Suburban Imaginaries, as well as co-editor of the Postmillennial Pop book series at NYU Press.
Product Details ISBN: 9781479846511
ISBN-10: 1479846511
Publisher: New York University Press
Publication Date: November 7th, 2023
Pages: 216
Language: English
Series: Postmillennial Pop