Genius on Television

Essays on Small Screen Depictions of Big Minds


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About the Book

Whether it’s Sherlock Holmes solving crimes or Sheldon and Leonard geeking out over sci-fi, geniuses are central figures on many of television’s most popular series. They are often enigmatic, displaying superhuman intellect while struggling with mundane aspects of daily life.
This collection of new essays explores why TV geniuses fascinate us and how they shape our perceptions of what it means to be highly intelligent. Examining series like Criminal Minds, The Big Bang Theory, Bones, Elementary, Fringe, House, The Mentalist, Monk, Sherlock, Leverage and others, scholars from a variety of disciplines discuss how television both reflects and informs our cultural understanding of genius.

About the Author(s)

Ashley Lynn Carlson is an associate professor of English at the University of Montana Western in Dillon, Montana. She has published essays on a variety of topics ranging from nineteenth-century literature to contemporary popular culture.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Ashley Lynn Carlson
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 228
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9773-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2207-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  viii
Introduction—Ashley Lynn Carlson  1
Part I. Genius Types:
Television Definitions of Genius
“Spectacularly ignorant”: The Conflicted Representation of Genius—David Sidore  12
Mediated Genius, ­Anti-Intellectualism and the Detachment(s) of Everyday Life—JZ Long  32
The Human Hard Drive: Memory, Intelligence and the Internet Age—Ashley Lynn Carlson  49
Gray Matter: The Malleability of Intelligence in Fringe—Lisa K. Perdigao  59
Part II. Gender and Genius
“Caring is not an advantage”: The Triumph of Reason in Sherlock—Jillian L. Canode  80
Geeksploitation: Gender and Genius in The Big Bang Theory—Jeffrey A. Sartain  96
The Genius in the Attic: The Female Technologist in NCIS and Criminal Minds—Marian R. Hjelmgren and Ashley Lynn Carlson  113
Gladiators in Dresses: Scandal, Femininity and Emotional Genius—Jennifer Kirby  124
“I’m not a girl, I’m a genius”: The Creative Souls of Brenda Leigh Johnson and Cristina Yang—Cecilia J. Pang  138
Part III. Genius, Difference and Deviance
What’s the Difference? Pathologizing Genius and Neurodiversity in Popular Television Series—Carol-Ann Farkas  156
Temperance Brennan: A Case Study in Genius and Autism Spectrum Disorder—Kristin Larson  175
True Detective or Smooth Criminal? The (Dys)functional Genius in Contemporary Detective Shows—Laura-Marie von Czarnowsky and Annette Schimmelpfennig  185
“It’s the age of the geek, baby”: The Intelligent Con Artist, Corporate America and the Construction of the Family in Leverage—Hannah Swamidoss  199
About the Contributors  215
Index  217