Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis


Political Science

Thesis Type

Honors College

First Advisor

Anthony Gierzynski

Second Advisor

Susanna Schrafstetter

Third Advisor

Alex Garlick


Polarization, US, Entertainment Media, Selective Exposure


Objective: With widespread polarization in American partisan news media and culture, entertainment media can play an important role in shaping or changing political attitudes. This project explores whether entertainment TV has the ability to increase partisan crossover within the nation's contemporary partisan divide.

Methods: Investigative methods include analyzing 2008 and 2024 surveys for US-based respondents on reasons for watching a particular show or show type, and a content analysis of the shows Parks and Recreation, Modern Family, NCIS, and Duck Dynasty, in which I code for liberal and conservative values each show evokes and compare those to its partisan viewership.

Results: Through these two methods of analysis, this research found that entertainment media diets varied on a partisan basis more than previously thought. This variance was seen in the heterogeneous content of shows themselves, as well as the cross-partisan show selection for many individuals surveyed.

Conclusions: This research can add to the growing litany of research on the political effects of entertainment media. More specifically, these findings show that entertainment media’s political effects can extend beyond the limitations of self-exposure.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.