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I Soprano e gli altri

Numero 36

Estate 2008 - Anno XV

A cura di: 
Donatella Izzo e Cinzia Scarpino
I serial televisivi americani in Italia

L'America in serie (Tv) - pp. 5-13

Cinzia Scarpino
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Quality Tv. Narrazione e stile del telefim nell'età della convergenza - pp. 14-24

Stefania Carini

The essay explores the aesthetics and evolu­tion of Quality Tv in the last decade. Hyper-seriality, complexity and televisuality are singled out as the three main features rele­vant to an understanding of the significance and of the cultural and formal changes of American Tv series.

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Jack Bauer e la sua "Extraordinary Rendition": l'etica della tortura e il melodramma del neoliberalismo - pp. 25-39

Hamilton Carroll

This essay analyzes the ways in which Fox TV's highly successful drama 24 conjoins the privatization of citizen responsibility pro­duced under neoliberalism to the state of ex­ception envoked by the Bush administration in its response to the putative threat of glob­al terrorism. Linking public responsibility to private desire, 24 transforms contemporary geopolitics into domestic melodrama. The ethical imperative that endows the show's hero, Jack Bauer (Keifer Sutherland), with the capacity to act as an autonomous subject unconstrained by normal rules situates him as a sovereign subject. These issues are manifest in the relationship between Bauer's function as a public servant and his respon­sibilities as a private citizen. As both father and counter-terrorist operative, Bauer's ac­tions provide a model of exemplary citizen­ship; by conjoining the relativist imperatives of the "War on Terror" and traditional mod­els of patriarchal authority, 24 finds a new home for an old hero.

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"Crime Scene Do Not Cross": i limiti della giustizia in CSI - pp. 40-51

Donatella Izzo

The huge domestic and international success of the TV series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation should raise some questions as to the causes of this success and the ideological import of such a cultural product. Reading some of the recurring formal and thematic features of the series in the light of Michel Foucault's notion of the "expert" and Giorgio Agamben's de­scription of homo sacer, the essay connects the notion of justice and of the relationship be­tween the citizen and the law as represented in CSI to the punitive turn in US penal cul­ture, to the cultural and political dynamics prevailing in the country after September 11, 2001, and to the contemporary use of the hu­man rights discourse within the framework of international politics.

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ER Medici in prima linea: il pronto soccorso come scenario di guerra - pp. 52-60

Stefano Asperti

The article analyzes ER as a war scenario. It shows how the popular NBC TV series has adopted a critical position regarding the US intervention in Iraq. Besides, war has also been used as a metaphor for the battles that doctors and nurses must fight every day in order to defeat illness and trauma and to re­store the integrity of the patients' bodies. Us­ing Schmitt's and Agamben's categories, those bodies thus become the symbol of the social body, while the medical staff is the bearer of a "healing exception" as opposed to the US state of exception and its role as global supercop.

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Nel nome del Padre - pp. 61-68

Irene Alison

Emulative or conflictual children, doomed losers eternally competing with their parent figures and eternally seeking the love denied them, the doctors featured in tv medical se­ries all seem to need to come to terms with their Oedipuses. From Jack Sheperd in Lost to Meredith Grey in Grey's anatomy and to Wyatt Cole, the anti-hero of Saved, they all live the medical profession as a way of set­tling accounts with their cumbersome and unaffective parental figures: brilliant doc­tors but absentee fathers and mothers that they feel both unequal to and unloved by. These dynamics create a symbolic space where a generational conflict is staged, one that seems to have deeply marked contem­porary America.

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Palinsesti queer: il pianeta The L Word - pp. 69-79

Valeria Gennero

When in 1991 L.A. Law featured the first lesbian kiss in a television series, advertisers threatened to abandon the show, forcing the producers to discontinue the gay storyline almost immediately. In 2004 The L Word - a show centered on a group of lesbian friends portrayed in a positive, glamorous light-achieved an outstanding commercial and critical success. The series reached a huge audience with relatively little scandal, received several awards and inspired a vast in­ternational community to create fan-art, podcasts, webzines and fanfictions. Queer palimpsests outlines facts and fictions of the so-called "golden age of gay television", and analyzes the forms of participatory culture encouraged by the new electronic media. Moreover the essay discusses the anxieties regarding the representations of lesbian sexuality in a medium, television, which necessarily responds to the expectations of mainstream audiences.

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Doppiaggio e ideologia: (ri)rappresentazioni della queerness nell'edizione italiana di Will & Grace - pp. 80-91

Anna Belladelli

By means of a critical textual analysis of the NBC sitcom Will & Grace and its Italian dubbed edition, the author aims at fore­grounding the set of values and the ideological standpoints underlying the Italian audiovisual adaptation of the first TV show that has exported queerness to the Italian primetime audience from 2001 onwards. Evidence from the first two seasons proves that the Italian translation has exploited homophobia and stereotypes at any rate for the sake of easy entertainment and social con­tainment, and that, despite an apparent 'po­litically correct' adaptation, the untoucha-bility of heterosexuality, formal marriage, and Catholicism on the one hand, and the il­legitimacy of queerness on the other, are im­plicitly reinforced by means of specific trans­lation strategies.

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Brave ragazze e brutte parole: l'influenza di Sex and the City su due scrittrici mussulmane - pp. 93-101

Masturah Alatas

The American television series, Sex and the City, has had a significant impact on two Muslim women writers, Mohja Kahf and Dina Zaman, especially as far as their style and lexical choices are concerned. These choices are consistent with what they say are the aims of their writing: to make talking about sex in Islam less of a taboo and to address sexual issues in a frank, casual way, all within the framework of an Islamic value system. However, this paper argues that this hybrid combination in Kahf and Za-man's writing - the use of an Americanised English to express Islamic values - rather than undermining American cultural hege­mony as Kahf and Zaman claim they do, ends up reinforcing it. Not only does their writing not provide alternative ways to imagine Muslim women talking about sex other than the ones we immediately associ­ate with mainstream American culture or American television characters, but it also assumes that a vulgar use of the English language is the only transgression and vehicle for liberation that Muslim women can allow themselves.

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Sex and Another City. Quando le ragazze si allontanano da New York - pp. 102-109

Ferdinando Calatrone

Almost all episodes of the HBO TV series Sex and the City are set in New York, the city be­ing the fifth character in the story. In this con­text, a particular relevance is acquired by two long digressions set outside Manhattan: while the production has sent Carrie Bradshaw and friends to LA at the height of the third season, Bradshaw alone is sent to Paris to seal the very last one. Similarities in chronological structure and representational mechanisms justify a close analysis of the two moments as a single trope. The essay focuses on the representations of Paris and LA, related to a wider New York canvas. Both cities are read through a mixture of high and popular culture, with Los Angeles portrayed as the apotheosis of fake, and Paris as the dull image resulting from well-established and long-abiding American cliches of the capital of France.

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Six Feet Under: la morte è di casa - pp. 110-121

Leonardo Buonomo

This article examines the widely acclaimed and discussed television series Six Feet Under, created by Alan Ball, who came to prominence in 1999 with his award-winning screenplay for the film American Beauty. As its title suggests, Six Feet Under deals openly, and sometimes shockingly, with death, by following the lives of the Fisher family, in and around their Los Angeles funeral home/residence, and of the people who gravitate around them. After calling atten­tion to the possible sources of Six Feet Under, and its indebtedness, in terms of tone and structure, to other television genres (such as the soap opera and the situation comedy), the article analyzes the series' treatment of the theatrical quality of the "funeral business". Set in a city in which "looking good" and performing are the pre-eminent indus­try and preoccupation, Six Feet Under tells stories in which the processes of preparation, exhibition and mourning of the dead assume the character of a spectacle. The sec­ond part of the article focuses on the representation of gender in the series, as it emerges from the characterization of the Fisher brothers and their widowed mother, and the search for beauty in the unlikely setting of a funeral home, through the figures of budding artist Claire Fisher and master mortician Federico Diaz.

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Soprano Waste Inc. Rifiuti d'America tra Napoli e Newark - pp. 122-135

Cinzia Scarpino

HBO award-sweeping drama series The Sopranos (1999-2007) achieved outstanding popularity among US audiences. Set within the "low-mimetic" modes of the Italian-American gangster story which encompasses the immigrant generational pattern, the narrative often verges on the grotesque, thus disclosing representations of social and emotional crisis. Signs of decline and depression are to be read everywhere in the se­ries and are realistically conveyed by the un­derlying and multifarious presence of "Waste" meant both as garbage ("Waste Business" being one of New Jersey mobster Tony Soprano's main activities) and cultural diminishment (with the decaying parable drawn by third- and fourth-generation Mafiosi who cannot help feeling dwarfed by the achievements of their fathers and Godfathers). The essay attempts to show how these two different yet interrelated aspects of "waste" are ingrained into Italian-American history and culture, and how to a certain extent their downward trajectory mirrors a condition of the United States at large.

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Irresistibili asciugacapelli: Homer e il suo pubblico al supermercato - pp. 136-143

Manuela Marziali

This paper considers the relationship be­tween Homer Simpson and the world of goods, reading it as a mirror of the relation­ship between The Simpsons and its audience. Homer Simpson cannot help surrendering to goods, which help him in defining his own identity and his condition as "best con­sumer ever"; similarly, the audience ends up being Simpson-addicted, the Simpsons be­ing themselves goods, and very tasty ones. Through a massive use of postmodern de­vices, an implicit partnership is created be­tween the fictional characters and the audience, by means of which The Simpsons rein­forces the show business world it was born from. Nonetheless, the conservative flavor of the sit-com is sometimes questioned: by offering new perspectives on old-fashioned stereotypes such as family love or friendship, The Simpsons succeeds in counteracting the risk of nonsense to which we, as real peo­ple, are everyday exposed.

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