Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Paul Julian Smith

Subject Categories

Other Film and Media Studies | Spanish and Portuguese Language and Literature | Television | Theory and Criticism | Visual Studies


Spanish, Spain, Television, Housing, Crisis, Podemos


Television is often thought of as monolithic and totalizing, controlling viewers and upholding the status quo. This project will propose different understandings of the mass-medium. In order to historically contextualize my study, I will begin with a brief discussion of the role of television in democratic Spain (from c.1978-present). The thesis will primarily consist of an analysis of two sides of contemporary Spanish TV: fiction and politics; and will explore the way that certain programs, alternately catalyze critical thought and actions or enable spectators to, following John Ellis, “work through” traumatic events. I furthermore propose that imaging a concept might not be the same as naming it. Indeed, democracy was reimagined during the days of protests of Occupy Wall Street: the call and response heard repeatedly in Zuccotti Park emphasized vision (and embodiment): “Tell me what democracy looks like? This is what democracy looks like.” Similarly, imaging the financial crisis and its associated pathologies might be a way of changing our imaginations. Precisely because they have a distinct grammar, flows of television do not name crises nor reproduce them within an established set of terms.

During the last decade Spanish situation comedies, unlike film, have been able to speak about economic and social issues that originated from real estate speculation and the international crisis. Aquí no hay quien viva, La que se avecina, or Con el culo al aire all depict the history of contemporary Spain. Episodes often mention events that happened week they aired. In addition to fiction, I will critically assess programs that center on political debate. La Tuerka and Comando Apache are two such shows that I will analyze. Both are hosted by Pablo Iglesias—one of the founding members of the new, radical, left-wing party Podemos. Driven by the spirit of the Indignados and 15-M (left-wing protest movements), Podemos has become a real threat to Spain’s bipartisan system. Both of Iglesias programs are broadcast over the airwaves and on Youtube. Hence, as a result of capitalizing on the potential for world-wide distribution afforded by inexpensive new media, their reach is far wider. Thanks to TV, a medium traditionally considered merely low-brow and commercial, the very politically charged words Gentrificación, Indignados and Podemos are now key terms in contemporary Spanish discourse. The definitions of these terms are by no means fixed, as they are constantly reimagined on the small screen.