object lessons TV Susan Bordo book review

TV Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things. 

Once upon a time, the news was only 15 minutes long and middle-class families huddled around a tiny black-and-white screen, TV dinners on their laps, awaiting weekly sitcoms that depicted an all-white world in which mom wore pearls and heels as she baked endless pies. If this seems a distant past, that’s a measure of just how much TV has changed-and changed us. 

Weaving together personal memoir, social and political history, and reflecting on key moments in the history of news broadcasting and prime time entertainment, Susan Bordo opens up the 75-year-old time-capsule that is TV and illustrates what a constant companion and dominant cultural force television has been, for good and for bad, in carrying us from the McCarthy hearings and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet to Mad MenKilling Eve, and the emergence of our first reality TV president.

Object Lessons is published in partnership with an essay series in The Atlantic.

Duffy’s Thoughts on TV Object Lessons

I love books, but I also love my TV. I have fond memories of watching Bod and Pob with my brother as young kids and then rushing home from school to watch Neighbours and Home & Away as teenagers. Only Fools and Horses and One Foot in the Grave re-runs connect me to home,, and watching historical sporting events such as Winx last race bring about deep emotion.

I’ve also actively avoided the onslaught of COVID programming. Case numbers, death numbers, scare-mongering and science depending on the channel you choose to tune in to. The Trump era and the Capital riots all unveiling live and, of course, the harrowing murder of George Floyd, whose life ebbed away while cameras rolled and mobile phone camera’s clicked.

TV, part of the Object Lessons series about the hidden lives of ordinary things, maybe a small, black, stylish book. However, it packs a real punch. Full of interesting information and commentary from the humble beginnings of the TV set of the ’50s to the screens and platforms we use today. The leap from a cumbersome set-top box and an evening event to watch the news to watching Marvel movies on our smartphones on the move.

TV Object Lessons is a tiny but mighty read and a collection that will sit perfectly on any creatives bookshelf or coffee table.

TV Object Lessons series is published by Bloomsbury and available from Booktopia

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