“Insecure”: A Show for You and Me
For centuries, the comedic form has undergone revisions upon revisions despite maintaining its core principles of humor. Compared to earlier eras of history, contemporary consumers are aflush with more entertainment options than ever before and this expansion appears to be in a stasis of continual growth. The question of what viewers ‘like’ is very much so the interest of producers, especially those trying to ingrain themselves into the psyches of target demographics. More so, this question has been informed by viewer consumption via the instant-reward availability of stream-on-demand content (Hogan, 2010). Streaming services have become ubiquitous with mainstream media culture. For instance, Netflix membership surpassed 40 million worldwide by the end of 2013 (Siegert, 2015). Home Box Office, known colloquially and henceforth in this post, as HBO, is one such premium network that has employed varying means in order to cement itself as a site for quality, engaging content. This was made possible, according to author Lisa Williamson, through HBO’s production techniques, narrative content, and audience address.
Much of HBO’s content is markedly and reliably different from traditional television shows. Part of the reason of HBO’s increasing ubiquity in the pop cultural sphere is due to the company’s ability to take programming, such as their sitcoms, and differentiate itself from competitors by offering features that its competitors can’t. In this post, I will first establish the basic principles of cognitive processes that accompany the shifting viewer demographic over the last few decades and relate this to the unique qualities of HBO content that make it enticing to viewers. Specifically, we will engage in critical discourse over two episodes of the HBO original comedy Insecure as pertinent examples of HBO’s techniques to reaffirm Williamson’s thesis.
In the realm of cognitive processes, dramaturgical theory can provide a rationalization of the viewer enthrallment with HBO content. Before engaging with the texts, it is imperative to ascertain the nature of the dramaturgical perspective as it pertains to viewers nationally. Sociologist Erving…