Publication Date

April 2017


Scott Higgins


Film Studies


English (United States)


Unlike a feature film, a single television series can run for several years. It can build up hundreds of hours of content, produced by a changing crew of creative personnel. A single series can employ dozens of directors and writers, and even transition through numerous “showrunners” (head writer-producers). In this thesis, I argue that individual authorial voices can be traced through television series. I also explore how these voices are intrinsically tied to the unique properties of the medium. To this end, I combine the study of a single televisual auteur, Joss Whedon (creator of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' [Joss Whedon, 1997-2003], 'Angel' [Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt, 1999-2004], and 'Firefly' [Joss Whedon, 2002-2003]) with a more general analysis of televisual authorship. I start with a look at Whedon’s episodic authorship, analyzing three episodes he wrote and directed. I then expand my analysis to consider 'Buffy' and 'Angel' in their entirety. Then, I more critically analyze the validity of referring to Whedon as his series’ author, and refine my definition of televisual authorship. Next, I consider 'Firefly' and its follow-up film, 'Serenity' (Joss Whedon, 2005), to check and develop my idea of Whedon’s televisual authorship, particularly when he is forced to switch mediums. Ultimately, I settle on an understanding of Whedon’s personal style and draw conclusions about televisual authorship in general.



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