Rack Focus

Reviews and criticism of film, TV, music, and more

My Master’s Thesis: “Transmission: Premium Television Representations of Characters Outside of the Gender Binary”



            Five fictional characters have emerged on the U.S. premium-pay-cable channels that blur the traditional male-or-female gender divide. The basics of queer theory (sex, gender, orientation, and transgender) and critical/cultural studies (encoding, decoding, and reading a text) are explained as a basis for the analysis of the characters, which seeks to answer the research question: does the premium-pay-cable television format offer truly empathetic non-binary transgender characters that challenge the dominant American ideologies about gender identity and expression? If so, how? If not, why not?

Shane McCutcheon from Showtime’s lesbian melodrama The L Word (2004-2010), Lafayette Reynolds from HBO’s supernatural drama-comedy True Blood (2008-2014), Roscoe Kaan from Showtime’s corporate drama-comedy House of Lies (2012-), Brienne of Tarth from HBO’s political-fantasy-epic Game of Thrones (2010-) and Job from Cinemax’s pulpy action-thriller Banshee (2013-) are rigorously scrutinized, revealing their surprisingly complex, confident, and transgressive queer power.

Please click the PDF below to view the thesis:

Ketchum – Transmission Thesis 8-11 FINAL


An analysis of Paul Millander, a transsexual killer on CSI


Click here to view the PDF Essay on Paul Millander

Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 7 Review – “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”


Now that the twenty or so new characters are finally firmly established, Thrones feels less like catch-up, now more present and active. Also the writing by George R.R. Martin and the editing in this episode is great. The audio advances and the sequences of the scenes made for great flow.

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Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 6 Review – “The Climb”


Last week’s brilliant episode was a tough act to follow. With the weaker storylines taking prominence and some awkward moments of sloppy writing and acting, “The Climb” was enjoyable, but ultimately disappointing by Thrones standards.

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“Iron Man 3” Review… Don’t Believe the Hype Machine


The Hollywood hype machine seems to set always set me up for disappointment. After paying $34 for two IMAX 3D tickets and sitting through 12 eerily similar, post-apocalyptic,  CGI-filled, franchise previews, I already felt drained and irritated with what the Disney-industrial-muliplex had to offer.

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Short Documentary Montage: “The Classy, Trashy…Las Vegas Strip”


Jon Havey and I shot this on the Las Vegas Strip in April while working on our documentary “Final Table,” which is about an amateur poker champion who is deaf.

Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 5 Review – “Kissed by Fire” – Character Development at its Best


“Kissed by Fire” is my favorite episode of the season so far. While it didn’t have any shocking deaths, dismemberments, or dragon firebombings, it had the most polished writing, acting, and character development since the season 2 battle episode “Blackwater.” The many confusing new supporting characters (Locke, Bolton, Ser Barristan Selmy, Tormund, Thoros, and Lord Beric Dondarrion) were all fleshed out and given enough screen time for me to understand who they’re allied with and what their motivations are. The main characters of Jaime Lannister, Tywin Lannister, Stannis Baratheon, Jon Snow, and Arya Stark all had great, emotional moments that let us deep into their psychologies, a task that is much more difficult on screen to achieve than in the first person narration of George R.R. Martin’s source texts. Also, the two worst plotlines of the season (Bran and Theon) were left out.

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