Presenter Information

Tom Gallagher, La Salle University

Location

Panel 29: Kearney 323

Start Date

27-10-2012 3:00 PM

End Date

27-10-2012 4:30 PM

Description

This paper confronts the question of whether messages can be diluted or even contradicted by the format in which they are delivered through a textual analysis of the TNT procedural drama Leverage, examining the portrayal of alcoholism in the program. The procedural drama, which often focuses on figures in law and order occupations, is characterized by close-ended episodes that often feature happy endings. Alcohol addiction has been a staple of many television programs, but these programs were mostly comedies or serial dramas. Leverage, a procedural drama with a light touch, is a modern day Robin Hood tale focused on five thieves led by an alcoholic protagonist. This paper finds that main character displays the expected negative effects of alcohol addiction but also displays positive qualities not often seen when the character is sober. The paper also examines the reactions of the protagonist’s closest colleagues to his addiction, and finds that these reactions, while prominent in the program’s first two seasons, are treated inconsistently in later seasons. The inconsistent treatment of this alcoholism in later seasons, the fantastical and often humorous nature of the program, and the procedural expectation of positive resolution to conflicts begun at the beginning of an episode often undercuts the program’s message about the dangers of alcoholism. This paper briefly contrasts the portrayal of substance abuse addiction in House, M.D., another program characterized by close-ended episodes and happy endings, with Leverage’s depiction of alcoholism. Leverage’s relative failure to accurately depict alcoholism raises questions about whether the procedural drama is the appropriate vehicle for portraying serious internal issues such as addiction.

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Oct 27th, 3:00 PM Oct 27th, 4:30 PM

Leverage and Alcohol Addiction

Panel 29: Kearney 323

This paper confronts the question of whether messages can be diluted or even contradicted by the format in which they are delivered through a textual analysis of the TNT procedural drama Leverage, examining the portrayal of alcoholism in the program. The procedural drama, which often focuses on figures in law and order occupations, is characterized by close-ended episodes that often feature happy endings. Alcohol addiction has been a staple of many television programs, but these programs were mostly comedies or serial dramas. Leverage, a procedural drama with a light touch, is a modern day Robin Hood tale focused on five thieves led by an alcoholic protagonist. This paper finds that main character displays the expected negative effects of alcohol addiction but also displays positive qualities not often seen when the character is sober. The paper also examines the reactions of the protagonist’s closest colleagues to his addiction, and finds that these reactions, while prominent in the program’s first two seasons, are treated inconsistently in later seasons. The inconsistent treatment of this alcoholism in later seasons, the fantastical and often humorous nature of the program, and the procedural expectation of positive resolution to conflicts begun at the beginning of an episode often undercuts the program’s message about the dangers of alcoholism. This paper briefly contrasts the portrayal of substance abuse addiction in House, M.D., another program characterized by close-ended episodes and happy endings, with Leverage’s depiction of alcoholism. Leverage’s relative failure to accurately depict alcoholism raises questions about whether the procedural drama is the appropriate vehicle for portraying serious internal issues such as addiction.