Small screen psychics: Television performance as dubious achievement

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The recent growth of interest in television performance has resulted in an array of books and articles which, in turn, have provided this area of study with renewed depth and breadth. Many of these contributions share an interest in questions of achievement, utilizing this term as a means of emphasizing the value in analysing performers’ contributions to the style and meaning of television texts. This article evaluates that critical tendency and uses it as a platform to consider instances in which achievement in television performance may also represent a deceptive or ethically dubious endeavour. The discussion builds to an analysis of television ‘mediums’ – individuals who pretend they are receiving messages from the dead – as a means of articulating the ways in which performance can showcase an impressive range of skills and, at the same time, contain fundamental deceptions or obfuscations. As a result, notions of performance achievement may involve complex and even conflicting evaluations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-367
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Popular Television
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • Aesthetics
  • Criticism
  • Ethics
  • Genre
  • Performance
  • The paranormal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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