Identity and Nostalgia on the Small Screen
3 "Prosperity": Dublin on the Verge of an Economic Breakdown (Sheamus Sweeney)
Sheamus Sweeney 3 Prosperity: Dublin on the Verge of an Economic Breakdown abstract This chapter is a re-evaluation of the 2007 RTÉ (Raidió Teilifís Éireann) television drama, Prosperity, which broadcast just as Ireland’s property fuelled economic boom was starting to collapse. It is considered in a number of contexts, both in terms of its contemporary critical reception and its place in the development of television drama more generally. Specifically it is considered as an example of social realism, a genre dealing with dramas about the urban poor and working class. However, while social realism is traditionally associated with left-wing politics, the creators of Prosperity disavow any specific ideologi- cal orientation. This chapter therefore argues that Prosperity is a variant of social realism, even as it superficially recalls many of the genre’s most celebrated examples. The chapter concludes by suggesting that Prosperity has become more, rather than less, relevant since its initial broadcast, as more people in Ireland find themselves in wors- ened economic positions due to the economic crisis. While the critical discourse on Irish television drama is relatively sparse, a common thread throughout is the argument that as an enterprise it has never built up a sense of momentum. It possesses nothing as coherent as a movement or golden age as understood, however problematically, in Britain and the United States.1 Instead there are numerous, but relatively impres- sive one-off productions or short series, like Strumpet City (1980), Family 1 Helena Sheehan, Irish Television Drama: A Society and its...
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