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Critical Analysis Of A Tv Show Essay

Friends, Drew Carey, Dawson’s Creek, Seinfeld: all popular American television programs portraying white America. Ross, Chandler, Joey, Rachel Monica, and Phoebe: all white characters on the television show Friends. Why don’t these characters have any minority “friends”? What happened to programs such as the Cosby Show or the Fresh Prince? Why are all-white television shows so popular in America and what happened to minority-based shows? Today’s television depicts popular white America while leaving out minorities. The lack of ethnicity on television gives America an inaccurate idea about minorities.

We live in a society where ethnicity is always depicted as sinful. When you sit down to watch television you don’t expect to see minorities on television shows. At the same time people are not shocked to see minorities being arrested or convicted on the news. What would be the public’s reaction if they went to watch television and saw six minority “friends” on a show just after watching an all-white neighborhood rioting on a news program?

Friedns reinforces the humorous “all-American” lifestyle. Six white, unmarried, young Americans living and interacting together, reinforcing the idea that it is okay in today’s society to be racially biased in choosing friends. By viewing this particular show and others like it, our society may or has come to the wrong conclusion about different ethnic groups. If people want to diversify their children, how do they let them watch programs like Friends? The group of “friends” are never seen with any minorities. They hang out at a cafe/bar in a large city. On occasion, if you pay close attention, you just might see an African-American or Mexican -American in the background. In one episode Joey has a part in a play. When the scene was over I had counted three minorities’ heads in the background, while I didn’t have enough time to count the crowd of whites. In the same episode, Rachel finds a new boyfriend (guest Ben Stiller) who is also white. Thus, all relationships portrayed on Friends are of white couples. This strongly reinforces the immorality of interracial relationships. People in society today do not see a homogenous portrayal of all-white society as they walk down a city block. Why do television shows, for the most part, display a perfect white homogenous society?

I find myself watching Friends among many other white television programs every day. You know that the majority of America also watches them also or they wouldn’t be on the air. Friends is so popular because it poses all the qualities that people enjoy. Number one, the characters are all beautiful or handsome. Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, and Lisa Kudrow are all irresistible female actresses while Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer, and Matt LeBlanc are all good-looking actors. They all fit into the mainstream glamour of today’s media. People look up to and imitate popular actors and actresses as these. Next they all fit into the category of whiteness. Prominent people in America for the most part are white and this is what people are used to. Lastly the show is very humourous. Joey and Chandler play the cute, dumb guy roles. Always doing stupid things and making wise cracks and comments. Phoebe plays the funny, stereotypical dumb blond role. What’s not to like about these funny, sexy characters? Friends is a lovable show that is compelling to the American public, reinforcing the idea that whites are dominant figures over minorities. As a critical viewer you are able to see how this reinforces the idea that television gives American an inaccurate view about minorities.As a viewer of popular American television, I myself have come to the conclusion that these shows impact the viewers indirectly as it may seem. The repetition of white television shows can make a viewer biased. When a predominantly minority-based television show is on, it’s not the same. Viewers are not used to these types of shows, reassuring the fact that white shows stay popular in America. What do minorities think about the lack of ethnicity? I asked a friend of mine who is an Asian American, and also a student at CSU. Giving it no thought, he said he noticed the lack of ethnicity but he “still loves watching Friends.” This leads to the conclusion that popular American television shows may have brainwashed many people. With this firsthand evidence, one can get the feeling that white dominance in American society is viewed as okay in today’s world.

While the public loves Friends, the produces and stations love all the money that comes with the popularity of the show. One simple reason for all-white homogeneous shows to be aired on television is because of popularity. And with popularity comes money. In

In a money-driven capitalist culture like ours, people will get whatever the money maker happens to be. For instance, can you as a reader name off the top of your any popular minority-based shows other than the Cosby Show and the Fresh Prince? If so, there certainly cannot be many. Television is all about what the public wants to see and stations are not going to air predominantly minority-based shows that make no money. With this one can come to the conclusion that with today’s television displaying a lack of ethnicity, Americans of all races can have an unjust idea about ethnicity and how races interact with each other.

Read more at Suite101: A Critical Media Analysis of “Friends”

Read more at Suite101: A Critical Media Analysis of “Friends”

Read more at Suite101: A Critical Media Analysis of “Friends”

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As you'll see below, different instructors take different approaches to analysis.  The key is to help students delve into a text, "listen" to it, think about it, and pull meaning from it.  The main types of analysis can be broken into "rhetorical," "critical," and "social" categories, and each category can be understood in a variety of ways.


















Paper Assignments


Types of Analysis: This tends to be where instructors differ.  Some have students analyze essays in the textbooks; others have students bring in their own sources.  Some focus more on understanding a text's purpose, while others concentrate on deconstructing a text's argument.  Still others have students look at media--magazine ads, television shows, etc.  But all of these can be loosely divided into three categories: rhetorical analysis, critical analysis, and social analysis, as Andrea Lunsford explains in The Presence of Others.  Here is a handout that explains different types of analysis.  You can teach one of them, all three, or some other combination.


Analysis Paper Topics: Some GTAs introduce students to several major types of analysis, then let students choose what they'd like to write about.  Here's an example of paper topics in each main area.


Analysis Paper Assignment: Obviously, the kind of paper you assign will depend on what types of analysis you decide to teach, and how you choose to teach it.  It's useful to give students an assignment sheet that clearly outlines your expectations.  Here are some samples: Textual Analysis, General Analysis Guidelines, Critical Analysis,Critical or Rhetorical Analysis.  Also, check out the Visual Interpretation section under Paper Three for some ideas about incorporating the analysis of visual images into the analysis unit.







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Lessons and Lectures


Three Types of Analysis:An abridged student version of the worksheet under "Paper Assignments" that explains three basic types of analysis.  In using this, it may be useful to have students brainstorm ideas about when they perform critical, rhetorical, and social analyses in their everyday lives. 


Thesis Statement for Critical Analysis: These lecture notes give an example of how, and how not to, write a thesis statement for a critical analysis of a work of literature.  With some modification, this could easily be adapted to apply to the essays currently in the textbooks.  Some instructors also assign a story for students to read and discuss as an entrance to critical analysis.  The one to which the worksheet refers is called "Do What You Can" and is available online here.


Going Greek: Many GTAs introduce the concept of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos in the argument unit; others introduce it earlier on, in the analysis unit.  Do whatever works best for you.  Here are some brief lecture notes for Ethos, Pathos, and Logos.  You may find it useful to go a little deeper into Aristotelian Appealsas well.  This is particularly true if you are teaching rhetorical analysis, since you'll want students to be able to understand when authors are making these kinds of appeals.








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Activities and Handouts


Another Way To Conceptualize Analysis: This handout breaks analysis into three slightly different categories--the "persuasive document," the "informative document," and the "instructional document."  You can use this as a lecture, as small individual or group assignments, or even as the basis for the major paper for this unit.


The Rhetorical Precis:A great exercise for breaking a text into its key components--a useful skill for students to learn.  It works well to try this in groups first, then to have students try a few on their own. Here's another, more detailed version.


People v. Caufield Analysis Activity:Note that this is identical to the "Caufield Debate Activity" on the Argument page.  Adapted from an old Constitutional Rights FoundationMock Trial case, the Caufield activity gives students two "witnesses" and a "fact situation" and asks them to argue for different interpretations.  It can be adapted to analysis rather than argument by asking students to look at the witness statements critically and rhetorically.  The questions at the end also prove helpful.  Here's an instructor cheat sheet, which is helpful when you need to jump-start discussion.








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Sample Essays


Student Samples:Once students start to identify examples of different kinds of analyses in the world around them, they need fewer examples.  After you've taught the course once, you can start to build up (with students' permission and the names changed, of course) your own bank of student essays, which are particularly helpful to students when your comments are included.  You can have them photocopied, or place them on reserve in the library for students to peruse at their leisure.  Here are two samples, but they may be a little obselete, as they refer to a book no longer used:

    Rhetorical Analysis of Todd Oppenheimer's "The Computer Delusion"

    Another Rhetorical Analysis of Todd Oppenheimer's "The Computer Delusion"








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Web Resources


Critical Analysis:Here's a bank of websites that focus on critical analysis.  Much of this can be applied to more general textual analysis:

    Guidelines for Writing a Critical Analysis

    Handout for Critical Analysis

    Basic Guide to Critical Analysis


Rhetorical Analysis:These websites focus more on summary and rhetorical analysis:

    Descriptions of Rhetorical Analysis, including questions to ask when writing one

    Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Letter From Birmingham Jail," broken down into "ethos," "pathos," and "logos" sections.

    Rhetorical Analysis Worksheet, designed to be used as a student reads a text 

    A Short Handbook on Rhetorical Analysis, with lots of great resources

    Guidelines for Writing a Rhetorical Analysis of a Speech

    More Suggestions for writing a rhetorical analysis


Other Sites:As you find new sites that seem useful to you, feel free to let the Composition Coordinator know, so they can be added to the site!

    Overview of Analysis, generally

    Analyzing a Radio Broadcast








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Other Approaches


Analyzing an Event:Another possibility for the analysis paper is to have students analyze the meaning of a particular event.  Here's an assignment sheetfor an approach that requires a student to analyze an event in his or her life and analyze it in terms of a larger overarching theme, such as family, memory, home, or displacement.  Here's a writing group worksheet tailored to the assignment.


TV analysis:Another approach is to have students analyze a type of media, such as a television show.  This can be seen as a kind of "social analysis."  Here's a guideline sheet for an "Analyzing a TV show" assignment.









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