Wayne State University’s TV Milestones series has a delicious concept: it identifies and evaluates groundbreaking television shows from across the medium’s history, and gives them an in-depth critical analysis. The list of selected shows was too enticing to pass up, so I ordered a few—mostly for fun, but also with the half-baked notion I might pitch them a Mission: Impossible volume.
The books are focused—just 30,000 words each—and come at their subject matter from an academic angle, a series of essays bookended by introductory and concluding theses. The three I read—covering The Wire (Sherryl Vint), Angel (Stacey Abbott), and Homicide: Life on the Street (Lisa Doris Alexander)—are intelligently written, and while a bit dry, do a fine job arguing their point. Of the three, Alexander’s is the most successful, articulately examining Homicide’s insightful, prescient political stance regarding racism and systemic corruption. It’s an unjustly overlooked show, and Alexander shines a welcome spotlight on it.
Ultimately, I highly doubt I have the academic chops to write in this mode, but I definitely enjoyed reading in it. The series examines a lot of great shows—some high-profile, some very niche—so I highly suspect I’ll be dipping my toes into these waters again.