Northern Exposure: TV Medical Comedy Series Research Paper

The selected topic is directly related to the history of radio and television in the United States and the research specifically looks at the example of the television series Northern Exposure that ran between 1990 and 1995 (Armitage). Northern Exposure was created by Joshua Brand and John Falsey as a medical comedy and drama, and it was broadcast on CBS (Hansen 143). There was also a focus on developing the ‘northern’ theme with reference to the characters’ location in Alaska. The cast of this TV series included Rob Morrow, Janine Turner, Barry Corbin, John Cullum, and Darren E. Burrows among others (Comelles and Brigidi 18; Hirt et al. 238). The following topic was determined for further research on the selected TV series in the context of the history and development of American radio and television before the 2000s: The importance of Northern Exposure (1990-1995) for the development of TV genres of medical comedy and medical drama.

Initial Research Questions

The proposed general topic for the planned research allows for the formulation of several research questions that investigate the key aspects of the topic that need to be addressed in detail in order to demonstrate the importance of such TV series as Northern Exposure for the further development of TV genres of medical comedy and medical drama in the United States in the 1990s-2000s. Four research questions are presented in order to cover the topic and its significance for the history of radio and television in the country. The following research questions that need to be examined are:

  1. How did Northern Exposure influence the representation of general healthcare practitioners in medical comedies and medical dramas?
  2. How did Northern Exposure contribute to combining the elements of medical comedy and medical drama in TV shows representing healthcare professionals?
  3. How did Northern Exposure contribute to demonstrating ethnographic aspects, cultural issues, and ethical issues in medical comedies and medical dramas typical of American television?
  4. Why is Northern Exposure viewed as influencing the development of such TV genres as medical comedy and medical drama, and why was it one of the most successful medical TV series in the context of its cultural impact?

These four research questions are helpful to discuss the stated topic from different perspectives with the emphasis on the role of Northern Exposure in the context of the history of American radio and television (Kendal and Diug 34). The first two questions focus on the impact of this TV series on, and its contribution to, the development of medical comedy and medical drama that are popular today. Nowadays, such TV shows are known as medical ‘dramedies’ (Hilmes 23; Kendal and Diug 34). The third question is more focused on the importance of Northern Exposure in the context of presenting characters and the plot with reference to ethnographic aspects, cultural issues, and ethical issues that later became actively used in other medical TV shows (Armitage; Comelles and Brigidi 18; Hirt et al. 238; McGregor et al. 54; Mittell 89). The fourth question allows for an examination of why Northern Exposure was so successful and important for the development of television. These questions can be considered as critical in order to examine all the aspects of the proposed topic.

Works Cited

Armitage, Matt. “Northern Exposure: Welcome to the Alaskan Riviera.” 25 Years Later Site. 2018, Web.

Comelles, Josep M., and Serena Brigidi. “Fictional Encounters and Real Engagements: The Representation of Medical Practice and Institutions in Medical TV Shows.” Actes D’història De La Ciència I De La Tècnica, vol. 7, 2014, pp. 17-34.

Hansen, Anders Høg. “Time Is but the Stream I Go A-Fishing in: Present Pasts in 20 Years of American TV Serial Fiction from Northern Exposure to Mad Men.” Continuum, vol. 27, no. 1, 2013, pp. 141-159.

Hilmes, Michele. Only Connect: A Cultural History of Broadcasting in the United States. 4th ed., Cengage Learning, 2013.

Hirt, C., et al. “Medical Dramas on Television: A Brief Guide for Educators.” Medical Teacher, vol. 35, no. 3, 2013, pp. 237-242.

Kendal, Evie, and Basia Diug, editors. Teaching Medicine and Medical Ethics Using Popular Culture. Springer, 2017.

McGregor, Michael A., et al. Head’s Broadcasting in America: A Survey of Electronic Media. 10th ed., Routledge, 2016.

Mittell, Jason. Genre and Television: From Cop Shows to Cartoons in American Culture. 2nd ed., Routledge, 2013.

This research paper on Northern Exposure: TV Medical Comedy Series

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