The Birth of the Post-Socialist Eastern European Televisual Collectivehood: Crime and Patriarchy in Shadows [Umbre, 2014–]


  • Anna Batori



crime, HBO Europe, Shadows, Wasteland, Golden Age, socialism, capitalism, television series


The global proliferation of media distribution platforms, such as Amazon Video, Netflix, Hulu or HBO Go, and their support for local productions have entered the Eastern European region into a new quality televisual age. Thanks to the innovative industrial and technological framework and the transformation of production, exhibition and distribution practices in the era, the post-2000 epoch gave local filmmakers and media practitioners the opportunity for national self-expression that contributed to the birth of new narratives and aesthetic forms. By focusing on the Romanian series Shadows [Umbre, 2014–], the present article investigates the very local tone of Eastern European crime series produced by HBO Europe. This paper examines and enumerates the reasons for the proliferation of the genre, while discussing its local characteristics that, as argued below, gave birth to a collective Eastern European televisual collectivehood.


Article received: March 28, 2018; Article accepted: May 10, 2018; Published online: October 15, 2018; Original scholarly paper


How to cite this article: Batori, Anna. "The Birth of the Post-Socialist Eastern European Televisual Collectivehood: Crime and Patriarchy in Shadows [Umbre, 2014–]." AM Journal of Art and Media Studies 17 (2018): 37−48. doi: 10.25038/am.v0i17.268

Author Biography

Anna Batori

Faculty of Film, Theatre and Television, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca

Anna Batori (1985) is a Lecturer in Film Studies at the Babeş-Bolyai University (Cluj-Napoca, Romania) with an MA in Film Studies (Eötvös Loránd University, 2012) and a PhD in Film Studies (University of Glasgow/Screen, 2017). Her recent book, Space and Place in Romanian and Hungarian Cinema (2018), is published by Palgrave Macmillan. She writes and teaches on European and world cinema, modern film theory and digitized narrative techniques.


Andreescu, Florentina C. “The changing face of the Other in Romanian films.” Nationalities Papers 39, 1 (January 2011): 77–94. doi: 10.1080/00905992.2010.532776 DOI:

Andreescu, Florentina C. From Communism to Capitalism. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. DOI:

Bardan, Alice. “Big Brothers and Little Brothers: National Identity in Recent Romanian Adaptations of Global Television Formats.” In Popular Television in Eastern Europe During and Since Socialism, edited by Timothy Havens, Anikó Imre, and Katalin Lustyik, 177–99. London: Routledge, 2012.

Batori, Anna. Space in Romanian and Hungarian Cinema. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave McMillan, 2018. DOI:

Blaga, Julia. “Romanian and Polish HBO Series Get Pan-European Distribution.”, October 4, 2017. Accessed April 1, 2018.

Chalably, Jean K. Transnational Television in Europe: Reconfiguring Global Communications Networks. London: I. B. Tauris, 2009. DOI:

Clarke, Stewart. “HBO Launches Streaming Service in Central Europe.” Variety, November 13, 2017. Accessed April 1, 2018.

Duma, Duma. “Are we still laughing when breaking with the past?” Kinokultura,, (2007). Accessed April 1, 2018.

Gelencsér, Gábor. “The Paradox of Popularity. The Case of the Socialist Crime Movie in Hungary.” In Popular Cinemas in East Central Europe: Film Cultures and Histories, edited by Dorota Ostrowska, Francesco Pitassio, Zsuzsanna Varga, 85–102. London: I. B. Tauris, 2017. DOI:

Grater, Tom. “HBO Europe’s Steve Matthews on the company’s push into the Balkans.” Screen Daily, August 15, 2017. Accessed April 1, 2018.

Holdsworth, Nick. “HBO Europe Launching Romanian Crime Drama ‘Umbre’.” The Hollywood Reporter, December 17, 2014. Accessed 1 April 2018.

Littman, Sam. “The Long Take as a Reaction to the Past in Contemporary Romanian Cinema.” Senses of Cinema 71 (2014). Accessed April 1, 2018.

Mittel, Jason. Complex TV. The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling. New York, London: New York University Press, 2015.

Nasta, Dominique. Contemporary Romanian Cinema. The History of an Unexpected Miracle. London, New York: Wallflower Press, Columbia University Press, 2014. DOI:

Petrescu, Cristina. “The Afterlife of the Securitate: On Moral Correctness in Postcommunist Romania.” In Remembering Communism. Private and Public Recollections of Lived Experience in Southeast Europe, edited by Maria Todorova, Augusta Dimou and Stefan Troebst, 385–417. Budapest, New York: CEU Press, 2014. DOI:

Pop, Doru. Romanian New Wave Cinema. An Introduction. North Carolina, Jefferson: McFarland & Company, 2014.

Popan, Elena Roxana. “Recent Romanian Cinema: Is It a Real New Wave or Just a Splash in the Water?” The Communication Review 17 (July 2014): 217–32. doi: 10.1080/10714421.2014.930273 DOI:

Popescu-Sandu, Oana. “‘Let’s Freeze Up Until 2100 Or So’: Nostalgic Directions in Post-Communist Romania.” In Post-Communist Nostalgia, edited by Maria Todorova and Zsuzsa Gille, 113–29. New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2010. DOI:

Roxborough, Scott. “HBO Europe: The Best TV You’ve Never Seen.” The Hollywood Reporter October 10, 2017. Accessed April 1, 2018.

Shapiro, Michael J. Methods and Nations: Cultural Governance and the Indigenous Subject. New York, London: Routledge, 2004. DOI:

Sodano, Todd M. “Television’s Paradigm (Time)Shift. Production and Consumption Practices in the Post-Network Era.” In Time in Television Narrative. Exploring Temporality in the Twenty-First Century Programming, edited by Melissa Ames, 27–43. Jackson MS: University of Mississippi Press, 2012. DOI:

Szczepanik, Peter. “Transnational Crews and Postsocialist Precarity: Globalizing Screen Media Labor in Prague.” In Precarious Creativity: Global Media, Global Labor, edited by Michael Curtin and Kevin Sanson, 88–104. California: University of California Press, 2016. DOI:

Tanasoiu, Cosmina. “Intellectuals and Post-Communist Politics in Romania. An Analysis of Public Discourse, 1990–2000.” East European Politics & Societies 22, 1 (February 2008): 80–113. doi: 10.1177/0888325407311790 DOI:

Tatar, Marius Ioan. “Democratization and Political Alienation: The Legacies of Post-Communist Transition in Romania.” Journal of Identity and Migration Studies 10, 2 (December 2016): 85–108. DOI:

Tismaneanu, Vladimir. “Democracy and Memory: Romania Confronts its Communist Past.” The Politics of History in Comparative Perspective 617 (May, 2008): 166–80. DOI:

Varga, Balázs. “The Missing Middle: Transformations and Trends in Hungarian Film Comedies After Political Change.” In Transformation Processes in Post-Socialist Screen Media, edited by Jana Dudková and Katarína Misiková, 97–117. Bratislava: Institute of Theatre and Film Research, 2017.





How to Cite

Batori, A. (2018). The Birth of the Post-Socialist Eastern European Televisual Collectivehood: Crime and Patriarchy in Shadows [Umbre, 2014–]. AM Journal of Art and Media Studies, (17), 37–48.