Magazine

TV archetypes: Which one are you?

  • 4 November 2011
  • From the section Magazine

There is nothing more embarrassing than being caught copying the behaviour of a TV character - but there might be a far more subtle process at work which is harder to avoid. A new US documentary series on PBS, America in Primetime, explores the relationship between TV characters and society over the past six decades.

It is based around four classic TV archetypes. We may have watched thousands of characters over the years but they all boil down to a handful of basic types, the series argues. The catchphrases and clothes may change but the archetype endures, subtly reflecting and shaping the culture and even the way we act and behave, the series suggests.

But how much influence have these characters really had - and are they as rooted in reality as their creators claim?

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