In Jason Mittell’s, “Policing Genre,” he argues that the narrative content of a television show can be analyzed by genre. I would agree that this is a good jumping off point for analysis. By having a genre to compare a show to, it gives us a foundation to build from. An obvious example is comparing Homicide to other police procedurals such as Dragnet. One main difference is the focal point of Homicide. Whereas most cop dramas, Dragnet included, focus on the investigating and solving of specific crimes, Homicide focuses on the detectives that solve the crimes and the experiences that they have. Without having a backbone for analysis, the only analysis that could be made is based on the narrative. However, television is so much more than just a story. From a genre analysis perspective, it is impossible to ignore the cultural impact of a television show. In other words, people choose a show to watch and have an expectation of what type of show they are about to see. From there they watch the show within the frameworks of their expectations. When shows do something new or unexpected, it falls outside of these expectations, like Homicide’s realistic portrayal of the Baltimore police force. These forays into the unexpected become especially apparent in genre analysis. It is easy to tell what parts of the content fall outside of the genre conventions. From there, it is interesting to see how it is received culturally.
The genre analysis theory for television does not just apply to police procedurals. Jason Mittell also discusses situational comedies. In a situational comedy, the audience expects a constant stream of jokes and ridiculous situations. Shows such as Scrubs have the tendency to insert dramatic elements. As this is happening more and more, the convention for the sitcom is changing. Audiences are starting to expect other elements in their sitcoms than just comedy. This would fall under the cultural analysis of Mittell’s proposal for analysis. Overall, he proposes a structure for television analysis which effectively combines cultural and narrative driven analyses.