Interpretative Perspectives

Function for Culture: This perspective looks at the show to see what sorts of cultural messages or myths are being reinforced or challenged in the show that the viewer might not immediately notice. The focus of such analyses is to prove, with textual evidence from the show, what particular cultural myth you think is being reinforced, challenged, or some combination of both.

Example: Friends reinforces the dominant cultural myth that women should be obsessed with finding a man to marry so they can have children. We see this message in Monica's ongoing obsession with finding a husband (which finally looks like it will be fulfilled) and her history of wanting to have a baby (which we see as the reason she and Selleck broke up as well as in her actions surrounding the birth of Ross's son).

Function for the Viewer: This perspective tries to explain why a viewer, at this time given what else is going on in society, might find a show appealing. The focus of such analyses is to prove, with textual evidence, that the show is appealing to or fulfilling some sort of cultural "need" or "anxiety" within the audience.

Example: A viewer watches "Cops" because of their anxiety about the state of law enforcement in society and the rising crime rate created by such events as the Rodney King beating where the police's actions are questionable or the Ramsey murder where it seems like the criminal will never be apprehended. "Cops" portrays the law enforcement officers as "good guys" who always catch the bad guys, and this reassures the viewer's anxiety.