Thibaut de Saint-Maurice. Philosophie en séries, Paris: Ellipses, 2009.
My rating: **
This book is quite a good introduction for senior school students doing philosophy and is intended as such. It systematically addresses concepts set for the final year program in philosophy in France using illustrations from a number of popular American television series. It does not have any ambitions to be a ground breaking foray into either philosophy or television studies.
The author mounts the highly contestable thesis that somehow television produced in the new millenium has been more substantial or philosophical than television series produced prior to that date. Many television scholars and fans might even argue the reverse. He also has a rather weak argument for limiting his choice to American series. The argument would have been far more convincing if he had just said straight out that these are the series the students are watching and as such, using them to explain philosophy, is far more expedient than using other material.
There is also quite an interesting overview of some definitions of art in a final chapter, but again the discussion over whether television constitutes an art form or not is a rather old fashioned one and not one that worries many television analysts these days. (That is apart from the debate over ‘quality’ versus ‘entertainment’ television).
At a technical level there are also errors in the English citations from various TV series and also in the name of one of the series selected for study: The Soprano instead of The Sopranos.
But these criticisms aside, this book is a good workmanlike introduction to classic European philosophy for beginners using some popular American TV series.