Anglia Ruskin University

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The Case of John and Juliet: TV Reboots, Gender Swaps and the Denial of Queer Identity

journal contribution
posted on 2023-09-06, 08:30 authored by Mareike Jenner
This article deals with issues of diversity and ‘visibility politics’ in contemporary American middlebrow television. The focus here is specifically how the reboots of Hawaii Five-0 (CBS, 2010-20), MacGyver (CBS 2016- ), Magnum, P.I. (CBS, BNBC, 2018- ) and The Equalizer (CBS, 2021- ) approach these issues. The article uses the gender swap Magnum, P.I., where Higgins (John Hillerman/Perdita Weeks) is rendered female, as example to explore how feminism and queer visibility are pitted against each other, while being rendered politically mute. While contemporary US middlebrow TV features a lot of racial, gender, and body and ability diversity, many of these issues are approached as visual rather than political. Drawing on theories by Sarah Banet-Weiser (2018), Kristen Warner (2015 and 2017), Andrea Weiss (1986) and Alexander Doty (1993), this article argues that middlebrow TV reboots aim for a higher degree of inclusion than original series, without fully responding to the political agendas linked to equality and civil rights. Reducing political issues to questions of visibility results in a ‘flattening out’ of goals white maintaining an ideology of ‘political neutrality’.



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Open Cultural Studies




De Gruyter

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  • Cambridge School of Creative Industries Outputs

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