This article examines the relationship between two trends in contemporary serial television: the frequent use of surveillance as a device for non-linear storytelling, and an emphasis on the emotional devastation of series characters and viewers alike. Through analysis of shows ranging from 24 and Person of Interest to The Good Wife and Westworld, the article highlights the significance of surveillant logic to contemporary television while also establishing serial narrative as part of a landscape of despair underlying television's new “golden era.” The intersections in theories of time coming from surveillance studies, television studies, and film studies indicate how the surveillance functions both as an element of serial narration and as the imaginary of the American postmillennial security state.

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