College of Communication Master of Arts Theses

Date of Award

Summer 8-9-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Media and Cinema Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Paul Booth

Second Advisor

Dr. Michael DeAngelis


This thesis examines existing discourse from the areas of film and literature studies in order to explore the complex textual applications and rhetorical functions of contemporary reflexive television. Characterized by its self-conscious effacement of the boundaries traditionally established by works of fiction, televisual reflexivity uses such interrelated textual strategies as meta-reference, meta-production, and meta-episodes in order to foreground the inherent artifice and mediation of television programming, ultimately conveying a form of implicit, and often parodic, self-analysis and interpretation within the diegesis of a given series. Additionally, the project examines a number of ways in which the emergence of digital media has affected reflexive television programming, illustrating how these reflexive series both project and reflect the types of active audience engagement engendered by digital media, suggesting a fundamental change in the relationship between media producer and consumer. As exemplified through the representative case studies of Arrested Development, 30 Rock, and Supernatural, this thesis illustrates how reflexive television purposefully uses such varied strategies as metareference, meta-production, and meta-episodes in order to reflect our current media landscape and the increasingly engaged, media literate, and participatory audience by which it is characterized.

Included in

Communication Commons