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Serial TV Musicals: A Taxonomy

Knapp, Anna (2020) Serial TV Musicals: A Taxonomy. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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During the 2010s, American network television experienced an unprecedented influx of musical television series such as Glee, Smash, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. By engaging with television studies, musical theatre studies, semiotics, and affect theory I seek to categorize these programs within a distinct genre of musical I call the serial TV musical. Serial TV musicals are fictional television series which use music as a necessary part of their storytelling mechanism. Musical numbers in this capacity can act to advance the plot on the scale of the episode, arc, season, or series as well to elaborate characterization or relationships. The music in these shows may be original or interpolated. Because of the nature of television, serial TV musicals have slower pacing than other genres of American musicals and as a result complicate plot beyond the romantic union of characters or the dramatic transformation of a protagonist.
I begin with a taxonomic approach to delineate what constitutes a serial TV musical and defend its significance as a category. I then go into some of the television theory that grounds my argument and begin to present examples of the distinctness of serial TV musicals. I briefly discuss musical episodes of non-musical TV shows because they are the most similar to musical series, and then I discuss Crazy Ex-Girlfriend as an extended example of the conventions of this televisual musical genre.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Knapp, Annaamk302@pitt.eduamk302
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairWang,
Committee MemberRoot,
Committee MemberCassaro,
Date: 16 September 2020
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 24 April 2020
Approval Date: 16 September 2020
Submission Date: 3 August 2020
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 51
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Music
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: television, musical theater, American musical,
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2020 15:48
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2020 15:48


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