To the Truth, to the Light: Genericity and Historicity in Babylon Berlin

Caitlin Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Babylon Berlin (ARD/Sky, 2017–) depicts Germany’s Weimar Republic by way of complex genericity, drawing especially on the era’s internationally recognizable associations with film noir and the musical. While this reflects its position in a transnational ‘quality’ television landscape, its generic frameworks also draw out ambiguous historical tensions difficult to capture in a realist mode and highlight unpredictable ambivalence across Weimar’s institutions and culture. This complicates Weimar myths that polarize its supposedly regressive politics and progressive culture and see it as a ‘doomed republic’, the subsequent Nazi period viewed in hindsight as having been inevitable. It also distances it from recorded history, inviting a symbolic reading in the context of contemporary global phenomena. Babylon Berlin thus demonstrates that although citing globally popular genres to depict national histories facilitates transnational television drama’s accessibility, it can also aid critical historical reflection.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Popular Film and Television
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2022


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