The People are Represented: A Discourse Analysis of Contemporary Programs in the Television Crime Genre By Maria Siano


In this book, Maria Siano analyzes the discourse about criminals presented in the television criminal genre, and identifies shared media messages used to socially construct “the criminal” in society. Using a critical-cultural-studies approach, Dr. Siano examines representations presented in the fictional programs, The Practice, The Shield, NYPD Blue, Cold Case, and Law & Order (which feature legal authorities as the main characters); Oz and The Sopranos (placing criminals as the stars); and The Jury (showing crime from the perspective of jurors); the reality programs COPS and America’s Most Wanted; and the documentaries Capturing the Friedmans, America Undercover: Gladiator Days: Anatomy of a Prison Murder, Deadline, and In the Jury Room. The book demonstrates that a wide range of depictions about crime, criminals, and legal authorities was evident in the television crime genre between 1998 and 2004. These messages contributed to a cultural connotation of “the criminal” that progressed beyond the previous singular connotation of criminals as “Others” in society. In the process, these shows addressed issues of inequality and injustice in the United States. This is an important book for all interested in the impact of communication on culture, as well as the portrayal of criminals in media.