The ABCs of TV

Lost in trans­la­tion with some of the terms be­ing used with tele­vi­sion? Learn the lingo and never get con­fused again…

TV Plus (South Africa) - - TV TERMS -

If you’ve ever come across a term that’s left you scratch­ing your head in con­fu­sion, don’t worry – you’re not alone! The tvplus team of­ten need to ex­plain them to each other too, like how we dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween life­style and re­al­ity shows. We’ve had a cou­ple of en­quiries from read­ers and de­cided to ex­plain all the lan­guage we use in our ar­ti­cles and try clear things up a bit…

Ac­tion: ev­ery­thing from crime-solv­ing shows with ex­plo­sions (like MacGyver, 2016- cur­rent) to pro­ce­dural cop se­ries like Chicago PD (2014- cur­rent) and The Blacklist (2013- cir­reent) fall in here.

Binge-view­ing: ever watched three or more episodes of a spe­cific show in one sit­ting? Congratulations – you’ve binge-watched! And thanks to videoon-de­mand (see be­low), it’s be­come the most pop­u­lar way to watch en­tire sea­sons of your favourite shows.

Com­edy: 30-minute sit­coms (like Big Bang The­ory, 2007- cur­rent, and Amer­i­can House­wife, 2016- cur­rent; see p55) as well as an­i­ma­tions like The Simp­sons (1989- cur­rent) are classed as com­edy.

Drama: got a se­ri­ous sto­ry­line run­ning across a sea­son? It’s drama, like This Is Us (2016- cur­rent, see p7, Vik­ings (2013cur­rent, see p65), House Of Cards (2013cur­rent; see p31) and other thrillers.

Dram­edy: tvplus doesn’t group shows in this genre as it’s too niché, but we do re­fer to se­ries like This Is Us and Or­ange Is The New Black (2013- cur­rent) as drame­dies as they have com­edy el­e­ments mixed into the dra­matic plots.

Fan­tasy: this group­ing in­cludes shows set in a make-be­lieve an­cient worlds, like Game Of Thrones (2011- cur­rent), where cat­a­pults and plumb­ing are “tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced”.

Fo­cus page: these are found be­tween the soapies and TV guides and can be sin­gle pages or a two-page spread.

Life­style: while it’s sim­i­lar to re­al­ity, the life­style sec­tion in­cludes kitchen shows (Cook­ing With Siba, 2015- cur­rent), talk­shows, se­ries about spe­cific top­ics like cars (Top Gear, 2002- cur­rent) and other doc­cie-style shows.

Pay-per-view: this a term used only for WWE (see p39). View­ers in the US have to spe­cially or­der the event (like WrestleMa­nia or Sum­merSlam) over the phone or on­line and pay with their credit card be­fore they can watch it. Luck­ily in SA,’s rights agree­ment lets WWE fans watch for free.

Re­al­ity: any­thing with a com­pe­ti­tion el­e­ment (like Sur­vivor, 2000- cur­rent) falls un­der the re­al­ity genre, as well as se­ries that fol­low peo­ple around in their day-to- day lives, like Keep­ing Up With The Kar­dashi­ans (2007- cur­rent).

Sci-fi: if it’s fic­tional with a twist of tech­nol­ogy (like the up­com­ing Star Trek Dis­cov­ery) or set in the modern world (like Amer­i­can Gods, 2017- cur­rent), it falls into the science fic­tion group­ing.

Side­bar: read our TV guides (p42- 65) and won­der what the col­umns on the far right are? Those are side­bars and they let us run soap sto­ries that there wasn’t place for up­front, give read­ers a pre­view of a show start­ing that doesn’t fea­ture on a fo­cus page or even just an in­ter­est­ing read about a pro­gramme or ac­tor.

Video-on-de­mand: on­line stream­ing ser­vices (like Show­max, see p9) make en­tire sea­sons of shows and movies avail­able at once, al­low­ing view­ers to binge-watch (see above) or browse to spe­cific episodes im­me­di­ately.


Di­rec­tor: they’re on set and di­rect the ac­tors and crew to film a cer­tain way.

Ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer: a more ex­ec­u­tive ti­tle that’s handed to show cre­ators, lead ac­tors who helped bring in fi­nance or any­one else who played a part in the show be­ing made.

Pro­ducer: they over­see the pro­duc­tion of a show or sea­son, in­clud­ing cast­ing, fi­nance, edit­ing and over­all di­rec­tion.

Pub­li­cist: the per­son who rep­re­sents the show, sends out press re­leases and puts the me­dia/pub­lic in con­tact with the show’s pro­duc­tion team/ac­tors.

Showrun­ner: usu­ally the head­writer or lead ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer.

• Still con­fused about words we use reg­u­larly or the dif­fer­ent jobs? Drop us a mail at tvplus@me­

Daen­erys Tar­garyen and her Game Of Thrones dragons could be sci-fi… but we class them as fan­tasy.

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