Teen Heroine TV: Narrative Complexity and Sexual Violence in Female-fronted teen drama series



Berridge S (2013) Teen Heroine TV: Narrative Complexity and Sexual Violence in Female-fronted teen drama series. New Review of Film and Television Studies, 11 (4), pp. 477-496.

A structural analysis of sexual violence representations in US teen drama series reveals that programmes fronted by female teens are unique in their handling of these kinds of storylines (see Berridge 2010). While series with male protagonists or ensemble casts focus on a single sexual violence narrative at a time, female-fronted teen series from the mid-1990s onwards often feature two or more sexual violence narratives running concurrently. These overlaps potentially (although not necessarily) challenge individualised understandings of this abuse, by creating thematic links between different types of violence against women and emphasising the pervasiveness of this abuse in teenage characters' lives. This paper explores intersecting sexual violence narratives in three US teen drama series, each fronted by a heterosexual female teenage protagonist: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (The WB/CW, 1997-2003), Veronica Mars (UPN/The CW, 2004-2007), and Life Unexpected (The CW, 2010-11). Drawing on Jason Mittell's (2012) conception of televisual narrative complexity, it considers how these overlapping narratives affect the underlying ideology of these storylines and how they are interpreted. I argue that a fuller understanding of sexual violence is offered by contextualising this analysis in relation to wider generic, serial, and narrative structures.

television; narrative; feminism; sexual violence; teen drama series

New Review of Film and Television Studies: Volume 11, Issue 4

Publication date31/12/2013
Publication date online07/2013
PublisherTaylor and Francis

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Dr Susan Berridge

Dr Susan Berridge

Senior Lecturer, Communications, Media and Culture