Branded Women in U.S. Television: When People Become Corporations (Critical Studies in Television)

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9780739187937: Branded Women in U.S. Television: When People Become Corporations (Critical Studies in Television)

Peter Bjelskou admirably synthesizes a half century of cultural critiques of the audience/commodity nexus, and takes the critique a full step further in his groundbreaking analysis of Real Housewives of New York. This Bravo cable reality show features women who are neither "real" nor "housewives," but are the most current version of the modernist conflation of hucksterism and culture. Identifying matches between everyday life and television is the holy grail of cultural studies, and Branded Women in U.S. Television is a solid new contribution. Scholars and students of media, cultural, and American studies will appreciate the accessibility of Bjelskou's treatment of this important topic. -- Frederick Wasser, Brooklyn College, City University of New York In this exceptionally well-written book, Bjelskou skillfully navigates Bravo's commercial offerings where viewers are regaled with narratives of conspicuous consumption and not the everyday lives of average housewives. Here is a clear view into television's latest entertainment that explains in detail how these programs make cultural sense of the present neoliberal moment. Ultimately these insights reveal a new level of commodification where product-pushing housewives become themselves, the brand. -- Robin Andersen, Fordham University

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This book examines how The Real Housewives of New York City, Martha Stewart, and other female entrepreneurs create branded televised versions of the iconic U.S. housewife. Using their television presence to establish and promote their own brands and product lines, including jewelry, cookware, clothing, and skincare, they become the primary physical representations of these brands. Peter Bjelskou explores their innovative branding strategies, specifically the complex relationships between their entrepreneurial endeavors and their physical bodies, attires, tastes, and personal histories. While their businesses are serious and seriously lucrative, reality television enables a certain representational flexibility, and allows Real Housewives to create campy and sometimes tongue-in-cheek personas. This ironic twist is increasingly part of the pop-cultural environment, and factors into these personalized brands. Generally, these branded women speak volumes about their contemporaneous political and social moments, and this book illustrates how they, and many other women in U.S. television history, are indicative of larger societal trends and structures.

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