In TV Socialism, Anikó Imre provides an innovative history of television in socialist Europe during and after the Cold War. Rather than uniform propaganda programming, Imre finds rich evidence of hybrid aesthetic and economic practices, including frequent exchanges within the region and with Western media, a steady production of varied genre entertainment, elements of European public service broadcasting, and transcultural, multi-lingual reception practices. These televisual practices challenge conventional understandings of culture under socialism, divisions between East and West, and the divide between socialism and postsocialism. Taking a broad regional perspective encompassing Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, Imre foregrounds continuities between socialist television and the region’s shared imperial histories, including the programming trends, distribution patterns, and reception practices that extended into postsocialism. Television, she argues, is key to understanding European socialist cultures and to making sense of developments after the end of the Cold War and the enduring global legacy of socialism.
Introduction. Why Do We Need to Talk about Socialism and TV? 1
Part I. Genres of Realism and Reality
1. From Socialist Realism to Emotional Realism 27
2. Tele-education 40
3. Crime Appeal 66
4. The Great Socialist Game (Show) 83
5. Postsocialist Ethno-Racial Reality TV 108
Part II. Genres of History
6. The Historical Adventure Drama 133
7. Postsocialist Nostalgia and European Historical Drama 155
8. Commercials as Time-Space Machines 173
Part III. Genres of Fiction
9. Women and TV 187
10. Socialist Soaps 199
Part IV. Genres of Humor
11. Socialist Comedy 227
12. (Post)socialist Political Satire 242
Afterword. Afterward 257
“TV Socialism is a comprehensive and highly original contribution to television studies, and it will become indispensable in socialist/postsocialist studies. Anikó Imre’s scholarship is superior and her book is outstanding in its breadth and depth of coverage.”
Kristen Ghodsee, author of
The Left Side of History: World War II and the Unfulfilled Promise of Communism in Eastern Europe
"Cautioning us against simplistic uses of Anglo-American categories of television genres, Anikó Imre explains how the industry definitions of genre and audience expectations of genres evolved very differently in socialist societies. By defining genre as a 'transcultural form of expression' rather than as a given set of conventions, Imre demonstrates how the genric logic of television is embedded in the aesthetic, political, cultural, and ideological transformations in socialist and postsocialist societies."
Shanti Kumar, author of
Gandhi Meets Primetime: Globalization and Nationalism in Indian Television
"TV Socialism is a must read for any scholars of television history, historians of socialist everyday life, those interested in memory and students exploring socialist history. Imre provides invaluable insights and poses bold questions that will stimulate debates on socialist television for years to come."
Kinga S. Bloch
"... [Imre] has composed an engaging and path-breaking study offering further insight into the multiplicity of phenomena long obscured behind the notion of totalitarianism."
"Anikó Imre has written a field-transforming book, with implications that reach far beyond television studies."
Christine E. Evans
European Journal of Cultural Studies
"...TV Socialism has as much to offer scholars of post-socialism as scholars of state socialism itself. Imre’s insightful analyses of often-trivialized popular television genres offer novel perspectives on key themes in post-socialist media studies such as nostalgia and nationalism."
Feminist Media Studies
"Pathbreaking and powerfully informative."
The Russian Review
"TV Socialism is a very fine and well written piece of research, definitely worth a read for everyone attracted by Eastern European popular culture. It offers a wonderful and always entertaining journey into the realm of socialist television, and by doing so, a journey into an audio-visual world of the past. It is a must read for anyone who is doing research in the field of television history, socialist history, not to forget those intrigued by insights into everyday socialist life."
"A long overdue transnational inquiry of the multiple continuities of television and socialism in Central and Eastern Europe. . . . Imre masterfully delineates contemporary Eastern European anxieties about nationalism, economy, memory, and historiography since the fall of the Iron Curtain."
German Studies Review
“The main strength of TV Socialism lies in the analysis of programs themselves; it is here that Imre develops some of her most original and intriguing arguments, which will no doubt continue to shape debates on socialist television and its place in global television history for some time to come.”
Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly