Alumnus Kris Barton Critically Examines Arrested Development in New Book, “A State of ‘Arrested Development'”

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Kris Barton (B.A. Communication ’00, M.A. Mass Communication ’02, Ph.D. Mass Communication ’07) has been able to utilize his degrees in an assortment of outlets. From catalyzing the creation of a Department of Communication at Dalton State College to editing a book critically examining the cutting-edge comedy series Arrested Development, Barton has an impressive collection of experiences up his sleeve.

Barton explains, “My degrees from FSU have opened a lot of doors to me that I may not have been able to access without them. Having a degree from FSU on my CV has helped with every rung of the academic ladder.”

One of the most memorable lessons from Barton’s time at FSU came in the form of sage advice from Dr. Art Raney: study what you love, because you’re going to be with it for a while. Naturally, Barton decided to write his dissertation on reality TV because he had been watching a lot of it at the time. When he was contacted about publishing his work as a book entitled The Mean World Effects of Reality Television, he realized that if you’re passionate about something, writing about it is easy and fun. He proceeded to craft a trivia book about the TV show Firefly as well as a collection of academic essays on fandom culture in the 21st century.

Most recently, Barton published A State of Arrested Development. As a fan of the show since it premiered on FOX back in 2006, Barton was surprised to find that it hadn’t yet been explored with a critical eye. He dove head-first into the research, quickly collecting tons of supplemental data and even getting Mitchell Hurwitz, the series’ creator, to contribute the book’s foreword. As a whole, the book examines how Arrested Development has addressed real-world concerns such as wealth, poverty, race, environmentalism and family relationships. It also analyzes how the show has revived the sitcom genre and explores the effect of its recent Netflix revival on the future of television.

Barton shares, “While writing this book, I definitely learned not to settle. A few times while working on this I would get a chapter from a contributor and think, ‘This is okay, but if I want this book to be great, everything in it needs to be great.’ I’m more proud of this book than any of my previous books, and anything I write in the future is going to be all the better because of it.”

Barton currently works at Dalton State College as an associate professor and the Chair of the Department of Communication. In his spare time, he enjoys reading or watching anything that tells a good story, regardless of its genre or medium. He also says that as long as he’s in the classroom and talking about communication, he’s happy.

To learn about the Communication programs offered at Florida State, follow this link.