Playing Nice: Sincerity and Irony in Television

deadline for submissions: 
November 1, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Owen Cantrell and Sage Westfall

Television has long been a space for comfort. Often, we watch television in the most intimate surroundings with our closest family members. Additionally, viewers are often encouraged to develop relationships with characters or situations over multiple serialized seasons. With the advent of Peak (or Prestige) TV over the past twenty years, our relationships to characters and situations have grown more complicated as both dramas and comedies have placed viewers in uncomfortable situations with unlikeable characters. However, recent works on television have played with the relationship between irony and sincerity in determining how “nice” we want our television. From The Office and Parks and Recreation to Ted Lasso and the work of Nathan Fielder, television has grown to become a space of uncomfortable comfort in relationship to audience needs and expectations.


This volume, currently titled Playing Nice: Sincerity and Irony in Television, examines the relationship between irony and sincerity in recent “nice” movements in television. Topics may include, but are not limited to: 


  • ‘Nicecore’ TV (Parks and Recreation, Schitt’s Creek, Primo, The Good Place, Abbott Elementary, Ted Lasso, Brooklyn 99, Superstore, Bob’s Burgers, Jane the Virgin)

  • New Sincerity and Irony (Nathan Fielder, Joe Pera Talks with You, How to With John Wilson)

  • Gender and “nice” TV

  • Race and “nice” TV

  • Class and “nice” TV

  • Humor and “nice” TV

  • The effect of the audience on shaping “nice” TV

  • The politics of niceness

  • Goals, successes, and failures of the Nicecore and/or New Sincerity movements

  • Nicecore in opposition

Abstracts should be around 300 words. Full chapters will be 6K-7K words in length.

The deadline for submission of abstracts is 1 November 2023.

Please email your abstracts (together with a short bio, 100 words max) for consideration to the editors:

Sage Westfall, and Owen Cantrell, 


Keywords: New Sincerity, Nicecore, television, comfort, irony, post-irony