Serials and Satisfaction

1 Ohio State University. Sean O’Sullivan is an Associate Professor of English at The Ohio State University. He is the author of Mike Leigh (2011), a volume in the Contemporary Film Directors series from the University of Illinois Press. His articles on serial narrative and television include such topics as poetic design and serial television; third seasons; The Sopranos and episodic storytelling; and modernist structure in Mad Men.


The idea of “satisfaction” privileges narratives that seek to fulfill a promise of wholeness or containment. Such an idea runs counter to the gapped, partial, and suspended work of serial narrative. This essay considers the perils of satisfaction as a goal or byproduct of seriality, examining how serials in practice—from Middlemarch and Great Expectations to Lost and Mad Men—theorize and complicate our sense of resolved conclusion, and how they articulate the ungovernable excess of energy and possibility that serials, at their most narratively engaged, inevitably generate.


Copyright © Sean O’Sullivan, 2014

Full Text

Click here for full text on the Érudit platform