Glee, Breaking Bad, and Parenthood
Chapter 6. Game of Themes
← 78 | 79 →Chapter Six
Game of Themes
Focusing on the roles that youth with disabilities (9–18 years of age) play on Parenthood, Breaking Bad, and Glee, I used a thematic analysis approach to determine the recurring themes, sub-themes, and patterns that may influence audience perceptions of youth living with disabilities. To accomplish an analysis of this nature, I moved away from descriptions to a more categorical, analytic, and theoretical level of coding. The intention of this analysis is to discover where and how youth with disabilities are being represented within contemporary network and cable television and to what effects.
Influenced by postmodern philosophies on deconstructing messages, semiotics, and language (Barthes, 1975; Derrida, 1967/1976; McLuhan, 1964), and using Hall’s (2006) theory on encoding and decoding, I examined the limits and parameters of the encoding/decoding process that the audiences of these shows might perform. According to Hall (2006), one of the key characteristics of the process is encoding the “receiver’s” acceptance of the message as meaningful discourse, which can then be decoded. The decoded message and its associated meanings “‘have an effect,’ influence, entertain, instruct or persuade, ← 79 | 80 →with very complex perceptual, cognitive, emotional, ideological or behavioral consequences” (Hall, 2006, p. 165). Within this coding system, individuals might arrive at multiple, oppositional meanings. The coding system serves to condense possible meanings by encouraging an audience to arrive at dominant or preferred meanings, which are secured through multiple viewings, observations, and interpretations (Hall, 2006)...
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