My latest book Scenes from the Suburbs: The Suburb in Contemporary US Film and Television was published by Edinburgh University Press in 2014. You can order it online here.
Below is an excerpt:
As America moves to the suburbs, the motion pictures move with it. In the past two decades there have been more films and television programmes set in suburbia than ever before. Films such as American Beauty (Mendes, 1999), Far From Heaven (Haynes, 2002), Brick (Johnson, 2005), Juno (Reitmann, 2007), and Lakeview Terrace (Labute, 2008), and television shows like Arrested Development (FOX, 2003-2006), Desperate Housewives (ABC, 2004-2012), Weeds (Showtime, 2005-present), and Modern Family (ABC, 2009-present) have won commercial as well as critical acclaim, drawing large audiences to the cinema or the couch, picking up nominations for Oscars and Sundance Awards, Emmys and Golden Globes, and almost without exception receiving glowing reviews. ‘There is’, as the social theorists Douglas Muzzio and Thomas Halper have remarked, ‘nothing odd about this. With most Americans living in suburbs by the mid-1990s – and many more hoping to – preoccupation with suburbia is natural.’[i] Indeed, the only thing that is odd, is that the artistic fascination for suburbs has so far appeared to have gone by media scholars and film critics unnoticed. To date, only a bucketful of books, articles, and reviews have been published that discuss suburban narratives; only a very small percentage of which exclusively concentrates on film and/or television moreover.[ii] ‘In the still-developing history of the postwar United States,’ the historians Kevin Kruse and Thomas J. Sugrue point out, ‘suburbs belong at center stage.’[iii] But they rarely do. This book is concerned with redressing this injustice by looking at the representation of suburbs in late twentieth and early twenty-first film and television across a variety of genres and contexts.