“Top 10” Lists

We asked. You voted.

With the Oscars just around the corner, Flow decided it was time to do some voting of our own. We emailed recent Flow columnists as well as participants from the 2008 Flow Conference and asked them to submit their “Top 10 of 2008” lists. Categorical suggestions included: TV (network or cable), international TV, video games, video clips under 10 minutes (on-air, off-air, whatever!), and failures (open category, but at least loosely related to media). While there was no exact science to our tallying, we attempted to weight votes according to responses and popularity. We also included brief commentary from some of our recent columnists, editorial staff, and conference participants about their respective “Top 10” picks.

The Lists:
Top 10 TV Shows
Top 10 Under 10
Top 10 Under 10: Election Edition
Top 10 Failures
Top 10 Video Games

What Got Left Out

A developing goal of the Flow editors is to promote FlowTV as a place for dialogue regarding international television texts and contexts. Initially, the Flow Staff had the intention of formulating a Top 10 list of international television programming. Unfortunately, our own lack of knowledge of international television, compounded by a less-than-overwhelming response from the Flow community, forced us to make the decision to forgo an International Television Top 10 List.

In light of this decision, many of the issues regarding the study of international television in the United States academy are brought to the fore. Aside from internationally-based scholars and international research projects, how can the study of international television be conducted from a domestic local? This brings up issues regarding not only accessibility, but also how we define international television. With satellite television offering a multitude of channels that offer programs produced outside the United States, how do we begin to draw the line between United States television and international television? Do we base it on where it is produced? Or on the location of those who are watching? We also need to consider the multitude of non-English channels offered through satellite. Language undeniably plays a large role in the ways we categorize U.S. and International television and how only-English speaking scholars can or cannot study certain texts. From the small response we did receive for this poll, UK broadcasters – mainly the BBC — were behind all of the programs nominated (which included Doctor Who, Skins, and The Apprentice as the only overlapping nominations).

These issues – particularly regarding language – bring up the underlying power dynamics in the study of international television in the U.S.. Lastly, in hindsight, our request presented a scope for a top ten list that was incredibly wide. For even if we were to receive a vast amount of nominations of programs produced and aired around the world, the ability for us to create a list from your votes would be challenging and would surely favor English-speaking programming (basing this assumption from the responses we did receive).

After posing these issues and questions, we want to open up these debates to the Flow Community. Please feel free to email us or comment below with your ideas regarding how to approach an internationally-focused Top 10 list in the future.

Image Credits:
1. Front Page Image

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One comment

  • Perhaps one way to go is to have a separate issue in which you actively solicit scholars based outside of the US to give a recommended viewing list. Back when I was in England, I’d regularly feel annoyed at the skewed version of English TV that made it to American shores, and could’ve easily compiled such a list. Now that I’m away from it, no way could I do the same (other than to recommend the campy and fun Primeval). With recording and fan-subbing skills circulating wide and far, I’m sure that Flow could get a really vibrant collection not only of recommendations, but also of accessible recommendations if you delegated the search to a few people, and I’d love to see the results.

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