Narratives of Miami in Dexter and Burn Notice

Myles McNutt

Abstract


In popular discourse around television, a series’ relationship with place is often marked through the suggestion its setting is “like a character in the show”, but this article argues against adopting this as a framework for analyzing television’s relationship with space and place. It articulates the relationship between this discourse of “spatial capital” and hierarchies of cultural capital within the television industry, limiting the types of series that are deemed to warrant closer investigation regarding issues of space and place and lacking nuanced engagement with place’s relationship with television narrative in particular. After breaking down the logic under which these discourses function through an investigation of AMC’s Breaking Bad, this article offers a more rigorous framework for examining how television drama narratives engage with spatial capital in an age of narrative hybridity. Through a close analysis of depictions of the city of Miami, the article considers how two specific narrative strategies—place as narrative backdrop and place as narrative engine—manifest across both serial and procedural programming, disconnecting spatial capital from its exclusive association with “quality television” and building a model for analyzing how place and narrative intersect in the contemporary moment.

Keywords


place; space; television; narrative; Breaking Bad; Dexter; Burn Notice

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TV Series and Films Cited

The Affair (2014-)

Better Call Saul (2015-)

Boardwalk Empire (2010-2014)

Breaking Bad (2007-2013)

Burn Notice (2007-2013)

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2000-2015)

Dexter (2006-2013)

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On The Town (1949)

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Thelma and Louise (1991)

Treme (2010-2013)

True Detective (2014-)

The Wire (2002-2008)

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DOI: 10.6092/issn.2421-454X/7147

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