What is “TV”? Does it still exist? For billions of people worldwide, Netflix, YouTube, and other streaming video platforms have come to dominate our experience of “television”. But where do these televisual fixtures of the internet come from, what makes their contents so popular, and how do they work? In this course, we examine the development of television as a precedent-setting mass medium and cultural form, with a critical perspective on how TV is produced, disseminated, monetized, and watched. Through hands-on activities and close viewing of TV shows in class, students will learn strategies and methods for critically viewing the many texts of TV, including close analysis of genre, narrative structures, and how ideology and culture shape these conventions. Students will also critically examine the television industry, its transformation and dominance within digital media platforms, and the multifaceted ways in which TV content works to reproduce cultural, social, and ideological realities in contemporary societies. CMNS 220: Understanding Television, is an illuminating, exhilarating journey through what is one of the most important communication media in modern life.