October 6, 2006
The Flow Television Poll

I posted this entry several days ago on my blog.

A while back, I wrote on my blog about my choices for Flow's television poll: Flow is an online zine where media scholars share their insights about contemporary developments in the medium with what they hope will be a diverse and engaged general readership. Participants were asked to identify but not rank their top ten favorite television shows of last season.

Well, the results are now in and can be read in their entirity over at Flow for anyone who might be interested in what a bunch of academics think is worth watching on television. The top ranks look like this: Lost won overall, identified by 12 of the 24 critics who participated; the second tier down was Arrested Development, The Colbert Report, and The Daily Show with 10 votes each (Keep in mind that 7 people also voted for Colbert's appearance at the Washington Press Club which may suggest that news/entertainment got more votes overall than Lost depending on how we count). 8 people (myself included) vote for Veronica Mars; Project Runway and Deadwood got 6 votes each; and altogether, 94 different series, specials, commercials, and YouTube videos got identified by at least one voter. Of the shows I identified on my original list, Spooks/MI-5 was the only one unique to my rankings. I don't know whether I should be depressed because my taste is so mainstream or kind of proud.

As Jason Mittell notes, many of the shows identified reflect the ways that new media is impacting our relationship with television -- shows that have not yet aired legally in the markets where the critics live, content which circulated only on Youtube or as in the case of Colbert's remarks, gained visibility through digital circulation, and series which really only found their audiences among academics once they became available on DVDs. In fact, he suggested that The Wire might have ranked very high indeed, based on feedback from academics who were discovering it on DVD had it not been off the air during the 2005-2006 season and thus been ineligible for inclusion. Mittell predicts it is an early front-runner for status in this coming year on the strength of its new season which is indeed getting rave reviews. (I still have to catch up with Season 3 on dvd before I can watch it but my Tivo is storing away episodes for the cold winter months ahead.)

Anyway, I thought you might be interested.