The Figure of the Father in TV fiction series

The Figure of the Father in TV fiction series

TV Miniseries show a vast array of genres to captivate audiences: charming and exuberant families, courageous priests in peripheries, crime and police and love and adventure stories. In short, there is something for everyone; all you need is to do some zapping. We are talking about the hugely successful Fiction series that are dominating the TV. It would be safe to say that TV fiction is in its “golden age”, either in small format (mini-series with 2-4 episodes) or series spun out over seasons. Whatever the format they continue to enjoy success and have high ratings in prime time.

The globalisation and diffusion of the Internet have contributed to increasing their social influence as well as influencing or forming new habits and customs or, as they say in jargon, setting trends. The secret of all this success is a cocktail of well-blended ingredients. The narrative style used in these series has been used since ancient times by numerous classical writers and in literature and continues to be enjoyed by audiences as it presents an infinite range of possibilities and combinations regarding the development of the plot, characters and themes. Not only this, the quality of the TV production and cast is much higher than ever before and cannot be compared less than what we see in films at the cinema.

The enormous impact and growing importance in popular culture of fiction brought the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross (PUSC) in Rome to dedicate a two-day conference on this theme and whose Proceedings have been published at Christmas time - a nice present for colleagues and those who are interested in this question. Happy Reading!

Presentation of the Acts of the Convention

By Enrique Fuster

“The Figure of the Father in TV fiction series” was the theme of the conference organised by the Faculty of Church Communications at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross held in Rome on 22nd and 23rd April 2013, and whose Acts have been compiled in this volume.

Behind the idea of the conference there was an awareness of the influence that television has and also the importance of the father figure in the family and in society as a whole. The starting point was to look at the relationship among fatherhood, family and society as represented on TV nowadays. As the field of TV is vast, we opted to focus our studies on mini-series and TV fiction series which appear to be living in a new golden age.

Whether it is in small format (mini-series in two parts) or in series which last for various seasons, TV fiction series have reached in the last few years a high level of technical quality almost like in films. The globalisation and diffusion of the Internet has helped to spread their social influence and ability to change lifestyles to the extent that someone has called them “The great storytellers of 21st Century”. As we know well the narrative style has been used since ancient times by classical writers and in literature. The prolonged success spun out into chapters and episodes captivates audiences because they offer numerous possibilities to develop plots, characters and themes. However, it could also be argued that they generate perverse mechanisms that diminish the unity and narrative identity as they are strongly influenced by the general public and their audiences. The conference has sought to show the merits and limits of TV fiction series especially with regard to the way the family is represented and in particular how the image of fatherhood is portrayed on TV.

The first volume is in two parts. In the first pars the speeches are presented in the respective order of the conference. In the second part there are nine presentations written in the alphabetical order of the speakers. We have included as an introduction the welcome speech given by Rector Mons. Luis Romera to the speakers and participants of the conference.

The first day of the conference began with Professor Alberto Nahum García from the University of Navarra who defined the phenomena of fiction series and identified the reasons for their success by showing examples mainly from popular American TV series. He was followed by the Italian RAI journalist Costanza Miriano who described the main features of the father figure today and the characteristics which a father should have. Dr. Alberto Fijo, director of the Spanish movies magazine “Fila Siete” gave an analysis of tradition and modernity and parental roles in three British Fiction series: Downton Abbey, Luther and The Hour.

The second day was dedicated to US cable programmes, Nordic Noir and Italian fiction. Paolo Braga, from the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart analysed the flaws and blemishes of the fathers in Mad Men, Breaking Bad and In Treatment. He was followed by Professor Juan José Garcia-Noblejas, from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, who introduced the world of the detective Wallander and described the crisis of the Swedish welfare state and the existing nostalgia in Swedish society. The morning ended on a lighter note with Armando Fumagalli from the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart who gave some examples of well combined positive vision of fatherhood and audience success, as seen in series like Don Matteo, Ho sposato uno sbirro (I’ve married a cop), Che Dio ci aiuti (God help us!)and films like A Beautiful Mind, Billy Elliot and The King’s Speech.

Apart from the main speeches, the reader will find in the book other papers presented at the Conference addressing cross-section subjects such as the decline of the father as a hero and model, the varying types of fatherhood in vogue today. Although they sometimes repeat the main ideas of the key interventions, they offer the analysis of additional worthy titles to those mentioned before such asEmma, John Adams, The Kennedys, Father and Son orPadre Coraje. Classic series like Brideshead Revisited, The Little House on the Prairie and more recent series like The Good Wife, The West Wing Revolution, Game of Thrones, Sons of Anarchy, La familia P. Luche, The Gorge Lopez Show, Smallville, The Sopranos, The Walking Dead, Touch, but to name a few. There is also the Web series The Confession.

We hope that you find it a pleasant and worthwhile reading!