chapter  8
1 The concept of genre
Pages 11

The concept of ‘genre’ as explored in film theory initially conveyed a pejorative connotation associated with formula movies and mass produced entertainment devoid of personality (Willeman, 1985). Turning to the function of genre in the context of television, one claim is that genre acts as a process of expectation on the part of the audience and this becomes a source of both meaning and pleasure (Neale, 1983). The systematic repetition and difference that is part of genre provides the basis upon which viewers derive pleasure. While individual episodes may keep viewers tuned by introducing fresh plot developments, there is a regularity to the form and content of different episodes in terms of certain key attributes which serve to identify the ‘type’ of programme the audience is watching. Viewers derive sets of expectations from these rules of conduct and styles of presentation which define for them the ‘genre’ of which the episode they are watching is a recognizable exemplar. Ryall (1979) described genres as sets of rules for the production of meaning. Such rules govern the combination of signs into specific patterns which regulate the production of texts by authors and the reading of texts by audiences.