Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Humanities and Cultural Studies

Major Professor

Todd Jurgess, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Scott Ferguson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Andrew Berish, Ph.D.


alienation, binge-watching, McLuhan, media, Shaviro, immediacy


With the emergence and rise in popularity of streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu, the way in which audiences view and interact with media, as well as each other, has changed drastically. The move to digital streaming impacts how audiences everywhere experience and expect immediacy in media, connecting deeper with what they watch. Along with this transition in spectatorship comes a shift in visual aesthetics, a trend that can be seen across various digitally-streamed series. This thesis serves to address what this transition is and how it affects the cultural landscape of the digital age, continuing the conversation of media theorists Marshall McLuhan and Steven Shaviro, who have written about the impacts of such technological changes.

As the prime example, this thesis will look at the Netflix limited series Maniac, due to its adherence to the visual trends of the medium, as well as the relevance of its themes to the modern digital age. Following two strangers as they connect through a clinical drug trial, the series establishes media intervention as a primary theme, especially in regards to the connection and alienation of society. Living in an age of technological innovation, the self-reflexive show serves as a way to understand how these changes impact everyday life. Putting McLuhan and Shaviro in conversation with each other, the statement on media intervention the series makes can be traced, as well as applied to the connection between everyone in the modern digital age.