Within your breakout room, describe your interpretation of the quote from Oullette and Hay’s and Torres's essays. Assign someone in your room to discuss the interpretation when we rejoin the full class session.

Ouellette and Hay

Laurie Ouellette and James Hay, “Makeover Television, Governmentality and the Good Citizen,” Continuum 22, no. 4 (August 2008): 471–84.

Quotation 1

“As the liberal capitalist state is reconfigured into a network of public–private partnerships, and social services from education to medical care are outsourced to commercial firms, citizens are also called upon to play an active role in caring for and governing themselves through a burgeoning culture of entrepreneurship” (472).

Quotation 2

“Television is thus quite literally helping to produce a privatized system of welfare, one that is significantly more aligned with a market logic than was the case in the ‘state of welfare’ and the earlier stage of welfare that preceded it. Under neoliberalism, civic well-being is increasingly both commodified (produced for profit) and tied to entrepreneurial imperatives, while ‘lifestyle maximization’ (Rose 1996, 57–9) is joined to (and often supersedes) the nation and electoral politics as the domain through citizenship is tested and achieved” (474).

Quotation 3

“[The development of how-to health and fitness makeover programs] has occurred at a time when the US government is concerned about obesity and other costly health ‘problems’ allegedly caused by improper lifestyles, but is unwilling to intervene in ways that might compromise a deregulatory ethos and reliance on privatized networks of welfare administration. Unlike the Progressive Era, when social workers promoted national legislative reforms as well as education and individual compliance, today’s helping culture is focused mainly on maximizing personal responsibility (doing it yourself) as a path to self-regulation and empowerment” (476).


Sasha Torres, “Television and Race,” in A Companion to Television, ed. Janet Wasko (Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2005), 395–408.

Quotation 4

“With considerable success, [beginning in the 1980s], conservatives sought to undo many of the gains made by racial minorities during the previous two decades by broadly undermining the legal bases on which programs like affirmative action had been based. Scholars of television…have argued that television played a crucial role in this process through, on the one hand, news, documentary and “reality” coverage aligning African Americans in particular with welfare fraud, drug abuse, bad parenting and a ‘culture of poverty,’ and, on the other, fictional representations of middle class or affluent blacks like The Cosby Show, which suggested that the fight for racial equality had been won” (398).

Quotation 5

“The ‘freak storm’ that flooded Harris’s home serves to decouple even Harris from race-as-problem, rendering her and Watts the victim of a ‘natural disaster’ rather than a series of political ones—the decisions that have kept her and her community poor” (401).

Quotation 6

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is nothing if not respectful, even valorizing, of Sweet Alice Harris. Indeed, the problem with the program’s racial politics has little to do with its depiction of Harris at all. Rather, what’s problematic about the deployment of race here lies more precisely in the program’s—dare I say it?—colonization of Harris and the landscape of Watts in the service of the belief that poor people need consumer choice rather than political choice, more commodities rather than more power” (403).