Television and Web Series


  • What Does The Doctor Mean to You? | PBS Idea Channel

    It's the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who! Whovians everywhere are excited to see what the newest Doctor will bring to the character. That made us ponder the question: what makes the Doctor, "the Doctor?" Eleven different doctors have played the role over the past 50 years, and each was unique, with different personalities and characteristics. But besides the physical symbols surrounding him - the Tardis, the sonic screwdriver - are there larger cues that indicate the man is in fact "the doctor?" 

    Grades: 9-12
  • Is Piracy Helping Game of Thrones? | PBS Idea Channel

    If you're like us, you love watching Game of Thrones, but you may not have cable. In this case, how are we watching this amazing show on HBO, which is stuck behind a pay wall? A huge number of viewers are downloading the show illegally. But, despite being the most pirated show of 2012, the Game of Thrones DVDs are top sellers, breaking HBO's own sales records! Could it be that piracy is actually helping the show? 

    Grades: 9-12
  • Is Over The Garden Wall About Having Faith? | PBS Idea Channel

    Our viewers really enjoy the Over the Garden Wall series on Cartoon Network, as indicated by all the comments and tweets. We do too! Wirt and Greg's journey to find their way home through The Unknown makes for not just a great show, but a great exploration into the idea of faith in the face of fear. The show and its two central characters seem to perfectly illustrate cynicism and optimism. So what can we learn from the brothers, as well as Beatrice and their frog, about faith and facing the impossible?

    Grades: 9-12
  • Is BMO From Adventure Time Expressive of Feminism? | PBS Idea Channel

    BMO from the show Adventure Time identifies as both male and female, and because of that expresses the ideals of Third Wave Feminism. Third Wave Feminism questions if gender is actually binary, tied to our biological sex. Is our understanding of masculinity and femininity fair, or even accurate? Of course, BMO has no biological gender, so there's no cultural expectations that anchors her (him?) down. It all seems to be a non-issue in the Adventure Time world. What do you think, is BMO male or female? Or does it even matter? 

    Grades: 9-12
  • Is Avatar: The Last Airbender Anime? | PBS Idea Channel

    What is anime? After binge watching the American-produced Avatar: The Last Airbender & Avatar: Legend of Korra, the question seems more complicated than anticipated. The general consensus in the West is that anime is a product of Japanese culture, and true anime can only come from Japan. However, in Japan, anything animated is anime, including animated American shows! So, what defines anime? Visual and tonal style? Geographic borders? Is there a reason to keep the definition of anime limited?

    Grades: 9-12
  • How Is Technology Changing TV Narrative? | PBS Idea Channel

    Watching our favorite TV shows is one of the most fundamental ways we entertain ourselves. For most of TV history, these stories were simple and episodic: you could watch one episode when it aired, and it was a self-contained story. However, now that we have the ability to find the whole back- catalogue of a show online, is it changing the way TV show are created? Not only can people catch up without waiting for a DVD release, but entire seasons are also released and consumed in a single weekend. How might that be changing the types of stories we're being told?

    Grades: 9-12
  • How Does Steven Universe Expand Our Ideas of Family? | PBS Idea Channel

    We love Steven Universe, but what makes it so great? Is it more than just a story of mismatched characters trying to save the world? Could Steven Universe really be about family and how it's impossible to define it universally? What else, or who else, can we call family? Are fandoms family? Can things be family? 

    Grades: 9-12
  • Does Reality TV Affect Our View On Surveillance? | PBS Idea Channel

    The "Reality TV" genre is mega popular, a massive cultural force, even though it's not really "reality." Contrived situations and manipulated scenarios make these shows entertainment rather than documentation, but they still feature real people who are willing to have their lives recorded. As a culture, we've become accustomed to watching people, but how does that affect our ideas about being watched, especially given the recent NSA controversies?

    Grades: 9-12
  • Does It Matter What Evangelion's Creator Says? | PBS Idea Channel

    Neon Genesis Evangelion may be the ultimate anime. More than just Mecha, NGE is dark and emotional, taking on serious topics such as depression, free will and a host of other intense material. But, creator, Hideaki Anno says that we're all reading way too much into it. Are his words the final say on this piece of media? Or, are the author's ideas of his own work equal to the interpretations of anyone else?! 

    Grades: 9-12
  • Did HIMYM Earn Its Ending? | PBS Idea Channel

    Are you a fan of How I Met Your Mother? Beware for spoilers! This show is a popular sitcom that has been running for nine years, teasing its audience the whole way with the riddle of the identity of "The Mother." But, with its recent finale and the mystery resolved, the reaction was mixed. Did Ted end up with who he was meant to all along? Or, did the creators pull a fast one and produce an ending that was unearned? With TV audiences notoriously fickle, TV producers must consider a responsibility to the fans and balance that with making the show they want. Was the ending of HIMYM ultimately a success or failure? Watch the episode to find out, and tell us what you think!

    Grades: 9-12
  • Can You Actually Enjoy Breaking Bad? | PBS Idea Channel

    We love Breaking Bad - but do we enjoy it? The show undoubtedly satisfies, and over the past 6 years, the show has been a roller coaster of feelings: frustration, respect, horror, amazement, and more. Could it be similar to roller coasters in another way, as with horror flicks and haunted houses, where the enjoyment actually comes in the relief that comes afterward? Is this what's going on with Breaking Bad

    Grades: 9-12
  • Are the Titans from Attack on Titan Evil? | PBS Idea Channel

    The titans, from the anime series "Attack on Titan," are most definitely the bad guys. But can we call them evil? If you're unfamiliar, the titans are huge beings that devour humans, but their motivation is a little unclear. Is it just hunger? Do they hate humans? Are they just dumb? And with all this doubt, what's the use in the label of evil anyway? Nietzsche, Kant, and Jung all weigh in, but you should probably watch the episode and find out! Tell us what you think!

    Grades: 9-12
  • Are Hologram Tupac and Hologram Freddie Mercury Nostalgia or New Aesthetic? | PBS Idea Channel

    Everyone has heard about the Tupac Hologram that played at Coachella earlier this year. But with Queen's recent announcement of a Hologram Freddie Mercury and TLC's plans for a Hologram Lisa Left Eye Lopes, it looks Hologram pop stars are here to stay - what does this mean for art and technology? At first glance, it might seem like this is just more of the same old nostalgia, but we think these Holo-Popstars represent something much bigger and entirely new. They are the heralds of New Aesthetic, a hotly debated new art movement dedicated to the blending of art and technology. 

    Grades: 9-12
  • How is Orphan Black An Illustration of the Simulacrum? | PBS Idea Channel

    How does the portrayal of clones in television and media link back to the philosophical abstract known as a simulacrum? The series "Orphan Black" seems to be a perfect illustration of the simulacrum -- a copy without reference to an original. We see simulacra in pop art, in religion, even Disney World, but does going down this rabbit hole lead us to ourselves? Watch the episode and find out!

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Is Community A Postmodern Masterpiece? | PBS Idea Channel

    Though the TV show Community has never achieved huge ratings, it has a passionate cult following, including us here at Idea Channel. The show plays with genre and narrative in such a creative way that it brings to mind the cultural and artistic theory of Postmodernism. Previous TV series have been self-referential and culturally reflective, but none so successfully as Community.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Is Futurama the Best Argument Against Transhumanism? | PBS Idea Channel

    Transhumanism is a scientific philosophy that says technology will solve all our human biological constraints and that immortality is right around the corner. While not an exact illustration of transhumanism, Futurama does show a future of vast technological ability, where today's everyday problems are rendered moot, and yet the characters on the show still seem to find themselves in some very non-euphoric emotional states. Does this disprove what transhumanists expect for our future?

    Grades: 9-12
  • Is Doctor Who a Religion? | PBS Idea Channel

    Doctor Who is one of the longest running TV shows on the BBC, and it's got a huge fandom surrounding it, called Whovians. And while it might not seem like, Whovianism, might just be religion! Whovians, like other passionate fan cultures, create art & fan fiction and engage in a strong remix culture.

    Grades: 9-12

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