Convergent Ethnicity and the Neo-platoon Show: Recombining Difference in the Postnetwork Era

by Vincent Brook
University of California, Los Angeles
University of Southern California
California State University, Los Angeles
Pierce College
Corresponding to and partially driven by economic and technological convergence in
the postnetwork era, american television programming in the past decade has produced
a form of ethno-racial convergence in an array of prominent dramatic series such as
Boston Public, Lost, Heroes, Grey’s Anatomy, and Ugly Betty. Featuring multiracial
and multigendered casts, prime-time soap narrative structures, and, most significant,
interracial romance, these popular shows are clearly responding to global economic
forces, sociocultural changes, and media monitoring pressures. They also have ante-
cedents in the platoon films of World War II and the platoon sitcoms of the 1970s,
extending their forebears’ capitalist realist tendencies to the point of capitalist surreal-
ism. Offering personal and industrial solutions to the postmodern dissolution of iden-
tity and the breakdown in network hegemony, the “neo-platoon” shows present a
multicultural and transnational universe in which not only everything is interconnected
but also interconnectedness provides the key to salvation. (download)