Date of Completion


Degree Type

Honors Thesis - Campus Access


Women's Studies (WNST)

First Advisor

Dr. Sina Kramer

Second Advisor

Dr. Sue Scheibler


As LGBTQ stories on TV increase under cultural pressures for “positive representation,” the ways that queerness surfaces on-screen continue to multiply and take varying shapes. From the sheer quantity of new LGBTQ characters to the increasing employment of LGBTQ creators, queer television has entered a zeitgeist moment. That is, queerness, in commodified form, has made it mainstream – able to be produced, represented, counted, valued, advocated for, and sold. This project asks how television as a medium facilitates, negotiates, and problematizes this – the commodification of queerness. I stake “queer dark comedy” television as a fundamentally ironic project, tasked with both reaching the mainstream and mocking it. This vexed position for “queer dark comedy” creates rich opportunity for questioning how queerness negotiates commodification in the aesthetic. Employing analytic theories at the convergence of queer theory and TV studies (“queer TV studies”) alongside camp, humor, and affect scholarship, I read two queer dark comedy HBO Max series (1) Search Party and (2) The Righteous Gemstones as negotiating queerness with mainstream commodification. With each series reading, I identify how the series’ queer aesthetics account for the ironic mainstream position of queer TV. In doing so, I also clarify how dark comedy emerges in queer aesthetics, how the queer negotiates commodification, and what might be queer about queer TV today. At its core, this study aims to recoup queer political mobility by redefining queer TV aesthetics against the ever-consuming mainstream, distinguishing dark comedy from camp and the radically queer from commodity culture.