As a current master student at the Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf, I’ve come to realize that my previous bachelor’s studies in communication oﬀered limited exposure to television studies. Since television studies wasn’t a significant part of my earlier academic journey, let alone my everyday life, I was eager to discover what awaited me when I learned that one of the first steps of my new studies would be attending a conference on televisuality. Specifically, it was the conference Redefining Televisuality – Programs, Practices, Methods, organized by Prof. Susanne Eichner as part of the events offered by the Television Studies Section of ECREA. This conference proved to be a treasure trove of fresh perspectives on televisuality, building upon John T. Caldwell’s influential work from 1995. International speakers gathered to share their insights, making it an invaluable experience for students like me and established experts alike. While the conference encompassed a wide range of topics, I want to report from a special panel which was titled “TV Genres.” This panel was dedicated to exploring local productions outside the United States, their transnational connections, and the intricate televisual aspects that define them.
Before attending the conference, I had some awareness of television genres, but I had never taken a closer look at them, let alone their specific televisual aspects or their transnational connections. However, one thing I did notice was that European productions like Casa del Papel (2017-2021) or Elite (2018 – 2023) have gained a lot of international success. When growing up, I’ve always had this idea that only US American series really had the chance to get popular outside their own country.
This piqued my curiosity about what makes non-US shows so unique and appealing to diverse global audiences.
The “Genres” panel was a captivating exploration of the complex world of televisual diversity, with four distinguished speakers oﬀering in-depth analyses of diﬀerent aspects of television genres and their transnational reach.
Gabrielle Camille Ferreira (University of Oslo): “Turkish TV Dramas in Spain: Exploring the Cross-Border Fandom”
Ferreira’s presentation delved into transnational media flows and transcultural fandom, particularly how fan communities in Spain have contributed to the growth of Turkish dramas in the country. Her research uncovered the contra-flow of Turkish dramas and examined the cross-border interactions within fan communities. The insights she shared revealed the constant interplay between the series and their dedicated fan communities. Gabriella revealed that these fan communities are really engaged in the series, they care a lot about the actors, share content and are in a vivid exchange about any news regarding the series. After listening to Gabrielle’s presentation, I started wondering what makes these series from this specific country so appealing to fans who are located in another country. This opened up my awareness of research into anime fandom (Reysen, et al., 2021), K-drama fandom (Ju, Hyejung, 2021) or indeed the incredible success of telenovelas across the world (Rogers and Antola , 2006), not to forget the popularity of Turkish dramas themselves (Pothou, 2020).
Valentina Re (Link Campus University): “Crime Drama as Site-Specific Televisuality: Some Recent Cross-Cultural Trends in Italy and Other Mediterranean Countries”
Re’s presentation focused on Italian crime dramas and their incorporation of cross-cultural trends, with a particular emphasis on the influence of Nordic Noir. She explored how Italian crime narratives adapted to unconventional locations and introduced strong female characters.
Her talk provided a detailed examination of specific televisual aspects, including eccentric locations that enriched the unconventional crime narratives. She also discussed the unique atmospheric elements that contribute to the creation of these narratives in various European countries and how diﬀerent televisual styles are picked up and reused.
Gianluigi Rossini (University of Teramo) and Federico Pagello (University of Chieti-Pescara): “Bad Guys and Good Mothers: The Televisuality of Italian Streaming Platforms”
Rossinni and Pagello’s presentation addressed the growing impact of global streaming services on Italian serial dramas. They noted the digitalization of television and its alignment with the increasing transnationalization of content. The entry of multiple American platforms, such as Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV+, and Paramount+, into the Italian market was a significant development. Their presentation revealed how these platforms blend transnational elements with the unique characteristics of Italian TV series. They provided insights into the challenges of creating content that appeals to both local and global viewers, using examples from recent Italian crime series like The Bad Guy (2022) and The Good Mothers (2023). The audience got to enjoy a discussion about the elements that make these series local products with an international flavor.
Ayşegül Kesirli Unur (Istanbul Bilgi University): “Thinking Globally Acting Locally: Discovering Televisuality in Netflix Turkish Originals”
Ayşegül’s research explored the role of acting in Turkish TV series on streaming platforms and how these shows strike a balance between their local context and global appeal. Her study highlighted the distinctive stylistic components of Turkish TV series and how they resonate with audiences, both locally and internationally. She focused on acting as the central element in these series, centralizing melodrama in diﬀerent genres and universalizing local emotions. Ayşegül also highlighted the intriguing dynamics of Turkish actors in the international scene, particularly their eﬀorts to internationalize their brand, often struggling with confidence issues related to language diﬃculties.
Turkish Netflix originals featured in Ayşegül’s studies included:
The “TV Genres” panel at the conference not only introduced me to the complex world of televisual diversity but also left me with a profound appreciation for the complexities of television genres and their transnational reach. It illuminated the fascinating dynamics between local and global aspects in television content, presenting a diverse collection of narratives that appeals to both local and global viewers.
The conference sparked numerous questions and reflections. One of the most intriguing aspects for me was the psychology of cross-border fandom and the unique appeal of niche content within diﬀerent cultural bubbles. When I think about how such transnationally successful series and fandoms come about, it makes a lot of sense that aspects such as belonging to a group and diﬀerentiation from the mainstream play an important role. These diverse worlds oﬀer opportunities for exploration, connection and engagement that often surpass what mainstream American television provides.
The conference also shed light on the challenge of authenticity, especially in the context of how local audiences perceive series that are local productions but with an aim of reaching international audiences. These series portray a specific picture of their country of origin, which may seem authentic to international audiences but not to the local viewers. The delicate balance of creating content that caters to both local and international audiences is a topic for further exploration. What was also exciting to learn was that the success of a series can diﬀer dramatically between its home country and the international stage. For example, series that are not very successful in their country of origin can be very successful internationally.
The internationalization of actors, as exemplified by Turkish actors aspiring to establish themselves globally, is another area of great interest. The challenges they face in dealing with these challenges, especially in terms of language and confidence, raise important questions about how they navigate these hurdles.
In the end, the conference made me interested in further exploring these diverse televisual phenomena. Especially the question of local productions and authenticity while at the same time claiming global succes seems really interesting to me. The ever-changing landscape of television promises limitless possibilities, with the boundaries between global and local, mainstream and niche, continuing to blur and pave the way for exciting explorations.
Chiara Nouri is a 24-year-old student who just started her masters degree in media studies at the Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf. Previously, she studied at the University of Arts Berlin, where she received her Bachelor’s degree in social and business communication.