Jowett, L. (2011) America’s favourite serial killer. Seminar Presentation presented to: Research Institute of Media, Arts and Design (RMID) seminar series, University of Bedfordshire, Luton, 02 March 2011.
Recent debates in television studies have increasingly addressed the fact that despite arguments about television being defined by the flow of broadcasting engaging the casual glance of the TV viewer, television has never been restricted to a set time and place, or even to one medium, but instead offers audiences multiple avenues to engage with their favourite products. One of the earliest and most loyal fan followings for a TV programme developed around the gothic soap opera Dark Shadows (1966-71), leading to conventions, novels, comic strips, episode guides, two feature films, and a series of audio dramas. Since then numerous horror TV series have continued in this tradition, building audience loyalty not only through the programmes themselves but by encouraging audiences to engage with the series and their favourite characters beyond the TV screen. In this paper, issues of audience, fandom, and television as convergence media product are addressed via a closer look at Showtime’s serial killer TV series Dexter (2006-?). In particular, questions are raised about how fandom is built around series with a ‘monster’ as the main protagonist: in this case Dexter Morgan, blood spatter analyst by day, serial killer by night. It has been argued that while film stars are actors, the real stars in television tend to be characters and the sympathetic ‘monster’ has become a recognisable television horror icon, with a lineage traceable from Dark Shadows’ Barnabas Collins to Dexter Morgan. Showtime’s ancillary materials offer ways to ‘read’ Dexter the character and the show, managing its horror in various ways and making its serial killer sympathetic, but also deliberately inviting discussion about its morality
Conference or Workshop Item (Seminar Presentation)
Dexter, television drama, horror, monsters, audiences, Showtime network