The best of all possible worlds? Rhetorics and politics in TV police procedurals in the USA

  • Donatella Izzo Università di Napoli "L'Orientale"
Keywords: Detective narrative, Theodicy, Fantasy, TV series, Cold Case


This essay interprets detective fiction as a narrative embodiment of a “state fantasy,” as theorized by J. Rose and D. Pease, and specifically, a “fantasy of justice.” The overall rhetorical function of detective fiction is described as forging a connection between the subject-citizen and the modern state, based on a constantly deferred promise of justice, in spite of the empirical evidence of evil and injustice. Detective fiction is thus seen as the functional equivalent of theodicy in the modern, secularized world. The essay argues that this cultural function has been revived in many TV police procedurals in the USA after September 11, 2001, when the state of exception demanded that citizens forfeit many of their rights and accept a new model of sovereignty. After examining some instances of such a cultural function among recent TV police procedurals, the essay focuses on Cold Case. Through an analysis of the rhetorical strategy of this series, especially as regards its management of narrative temporality and some recurring tropes, such as the ghost’s final apparition, the essay reads Cold Case as an attempt to give symbolic resolution to some of the political and cultural tensions of post-9/11 USA. 


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How to Cite
Izzo, D. (2014). The best of all possible worlds? Rhetorics and politics in TV police procedurals in the USA. Between, 4(7).
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