AS Media Studies – Representation in TV drama - Exam technique and tips
There are three ways for you to get marks (out of 50) in this paper.
20 Come from making an argument about the way you think a character is being represented.
20 Come from using specific examples from the text
10 Come from accurate use of terminology.
The structure of the exam:
You will be screened a five minute extract from an unseen TV drama 4 times. This will take 30 minutes.
1st Screening: Do not take notes. Watch the extract and decide what your argument will be concerning the
representation of single or groups of characters or relationships between two or more.
2nd Screening: Look for and take notes on examples across camera, editing, sound and mise en scene which
exemplifies your first key point/observation.
3rd Screening: Look for and take notes on examples across camera, editing, sound and mise en scene which
exemplifies your second key point/observation.
4th Screening: Look for and take notes on examples across camera, editing, sound and mise en scene which
exemplifies your third and fourth key point/observation.
NB: You will be given some time in-between screenings to take notes – use this time to prepare your main points
about each character.
Structuring your response
Give a short (no more than 2/3 lines) setting out your argument about how certain characters are represented,
focusing on comparisons, juxtapositions, etc.
Structure each paragraph around a character.
1. Make your argument
2. Refer to your notes about how you can exemplify this argument, taking care to integrate your analysis.
(for instance, you might be able to talk about a high angle long shot which demonstrates particular proxemics and
3. Explain how this device (or these devices) works to represent the character in a particular way. Discuss
preferred audience reactions.
4. Link with the next paragraph/character analysis – compare/contrast/relationship/positive or negative
Don’t worry about concluding your argument – best to spend any spare time reading over what you have written
and adapting/amending your work.
Glossary of helpful words
Class / Status
Underclass Respect / No respect
Working class (not lower class) Dialect
Upper class (not higher class) Accent
Under class (i.e. the Gallaghers) Diction (choice of words in speech)
Regional accent Hierarchy
Age World weary
Freedom Immature / Mature
Behaviour High Jinx (general fun and misbehaviour)
Youthful Well grounded
Exuberance Out of touch (i.e. a teacher might be out of touch
with the needs of his students)
Stoic [stowik] -unaffected by emotions – ‘a stoic old
man’. Generation, generation gap.
Feminine (not girly) Macho
Masculine (not blokey) Effeminate
Patriarchy / patriarchal (the system which places men Typical / atypical reactions
at the head of a household).
Traditional gender roles
Modern representations (tough W.P.C, etc)
Manish (of a woman)
Motherhood / Maternal instinct
Violence / Pacifism
Emotion (or lack of)
Cultural differences Subculture
Economic links Inequality
Immigrant Accent, Dialect
Stereotypical workplaces? (an Indian corner shop Integrated, Integration
owner, an African traffic warden, etc)
Positive/negative representations (fair?)
Able bodied Obstinate or obstinacy (stubbornness)
Condescending attitudes Bravery
Emotional impact Mental strength, physical weakness
Restrictions / Restrictive impact
Transgender (i.e. a man who becomes a woman as a Femme Fatal (a female character type who is sexual
life choice) yet dangerous)
Transvestite (i.e. a man who ‘drags up’ for Traditional gender roles / attitudes to sex
Homophobic (someone with an extreme dislike of
homosexual people). Celibate Celibacy
Conservative beliefs (backwards looking, not Monogamous
Progressive beliefs, forward thinking.
Sexual confidence, prowess
Accent Local/ regional rivalries (Manchester/Liverpool,
Territory / Territorial
Iconic views (i.e. London Bridge)
Links with class
Alternatives for the word ‘show’
Juxtaposition (placing contrasting things / people side Signifier
by side to highlight their differences
Audience (consider their social group and how this
Preferred audience response effects preferred responses).
Connotation Role reversal
Denotation Incongruous (inappropriate, incompatible, unlikely)
Positive/Negative representation Relationship
Typical / Atypical. Social position
Other Key words / concepts:
Preferred audience response
Relationships between two or more characters
Positive / Negative representations
Tips for discussing camera and editing
Hand held camera – an excitable state (can link to a cultural situation around age, ethnicity, class, sexuality etc)
Static camera – a calm, sedate state. (also can be linked to a cultural situation around age, ethnicity, class, sexuality etc)
High and Low angles- for indicating power or lack of.
Long shot / establishing shot – enable the audience to understand proxemics, locations and other important elements of
mise en scene
Focus shift – literally focuses attention from one part of the scene to another – allows the audience to gage a relationship
Pan – Encourages the audience to examine a scene
Crab – comparing characters placed in a row.
Areal shot / top shot
A reaction shot is always useful in assessing a characters attitude or relationship with a person or event
Shot –Reverse shot can be used to indicate a relationship or set up a comparison
Intercutting can be used to compare two events occurring simultaneously
Dissolve – can be a dream sequence (therefore an insight into a character’s desires/fears).
A graphic match- to compare or contrast two characters or demonstrate a change in a character over time.
An eye line match – helps to emphasise a significant prop or indicate a desire / fear of something or someone.
Long takes – May represent tension or an uncomfortable situation.
Short takes – To indicate a frantic temperament or state of mind