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Views On Happiness In The Television Series Ally Mcbeal: The Philosophy Of David E. Kelley

McKee, Alan (2004) Views On Happiness In The Television Series Ally Mcbeal: The Philosophy Of David E. Kelley. Journal of Happiness Studies, 5(4), pp. 385-411.

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Abstract

This article contributes to our understanding of popular thinking about happiness by exploring the work of David E. Kelley, the creator of the television program Ally McBeal and an important philosopher of happiness. Kelley's major points are as follows. He is more ambivalent than is generally the case in popular philosophy about many of the traditional sources of happiness. In regard to the maxim that money can't buy happiness he gives space to characters who assert that there is a relationship between material comfort and happiness, as well as to those that claim the opposite position. He is similarly ambivalent about the relationship between loving relationships and happiness; and friendships and happiness. In relation to these points Kelley is surprisingly principled in citing the sources that he draws upon in his thinking (through intertextual references to genres and texts that have explored these points before him). His most original and interesting contributions to popular discussions of the nature of happiness are twofold. The first is his suggestion that there is a lot to be said for false consciousness. He presents situations where characters choose wilfully to ignore reality and instead to live in fantasy worlds where they are happy. Rather than condemning such behaviour, Kelley presents it as understandable, attractive and perhaps even heroic. The second is his proposal that happiness should be seen as an effect of bodily performance rather than an expression of the authentic inner self - if one forces oneself to smile, happiness may follow. Ultimately Ally McBeal presents a multifaceted popular account of the nature of happiness, where the various positions explored cannot all be reconciled; and where ironic ambivalence is the key tone.

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ID Code: 14616
Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Television, Popular philosophy, Ally McBeal, False consciousness, Prozac, Somatic
DOI: 10.1007/s10902-004-8885-6
ISSN: 1573-7780
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES (220000) > OTHER PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES (229900) > Philosophy and Religious Studies not elsewhere classified (229999)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > CULTURAL STUDIES (200200) > Screen and Media Culture (200212)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2004 Springer
Copyright Statement: The original publication is available at SpringerLink http://www.springerlink.com
Deposited On: 01 Sep 2008
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 23:19

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