Comfort TV - theorising the everyday use of TV as an apparatus for therapeutic reward, the restoration of identity, and other affects.
The Comfort TV project is all about working to better understand how audiences use television as an everyday tool for comfort. By comfort, I mean something which has the potential to not only relax viewers, but also to strengthen, soothe and rejuvenate; essentially, television that makes the viewer feel better. The depth and variety of television content available via TV sets, laptops, mobile devices and tablets is incredibly vast and fluid, as are the amount of ways in which audiences now choose to put that content to use and make meanings from it. And that’s exactly what this project is concerned with, looking at how successfully (or not) audiences use and adapt television in an attempt to respond to their immediate situation, to meet their physical and emotional needs, as a reaction to life both around and beyond the screen.
This relatively untapped area for study is hugely exciting and could reveal much about how audiences actually use television as far more than short-lived entertainment or distraction, but as an almost therapeutic tool, capable of changing their mood, influencing their physical and emotional well-being, imparting a sense of home or belonging, and possibly even having a far greater role yet to be realised within working care environments. Of course, this potential for comfort is also met by outbursts of discomfort and encounters with more challenging TV, and it is my intention to examine how viewers similarly navigate and respond to negative or invasive forms of television, TV’s potential to dishearten. It is my hope that when the project is complete we will have a far better understanding of exactly how different audiences are utilising, responding to and adapting television to meet their daily needs – as opposed to TV just happening – and how successful television actually is as a tool for comfort.
- AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership studentship 2015/16
Comfort TV blog – “All about the TV shows that make you feel better.” Available at www.comforttv.wordpress.com