Tommy Westphall was an austistic child on the TV series St Elsewhere who, it was revealed in the closing moments of the final episode of that series, had dreamt the entire run of the show. […] St Elsewhere has direct connections to twelve other television series – many of them direct crossovers of character to and from the series. Others make mention of specific parts of the St Elsewhere fictional universe, placing them within the same fictional sphere.
Perhaps because of technological convergence through DVRs and TiVo, television fragmentation, and the so-called post-network era, for many television scholars working on “important” texts – most often masculinized shows that air in primetime – flow has become passé, bygone, and moved beyond in television studies. Choosing not to engage with the (super)text and focusing only on the narrative elements of a show makes for concerning, unremarked-upon assumptions about “quality” audiences and spectatorship practices with strong implications for erasures of class and gender beyond what I can cover here. But flow is, of course, alive and well and even, as I’ll argue, desired. Moreover, it’s not only characteristic of network broadcasting (especially in daytime), but cable and non-network spaces are themselves begging for ‘flownalyses.’ For instance, I’m an avid viewer of Logo’s #sitcomtherapy nights, which air old episodes of queer-friendly sitcoms like The Golden Girls and Roseanne, punctuated by bumpers showing gay men and couples, PSAs by gay puppets educating audiences about AIDS, and programs for queer shows with queer bodies like RuPaul’s Drag Race, all the while overlaid by Tweets, hashtags, and queer trivia.
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