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It dominates our lives. It is the twentieth-century medium. And yet we're all a little sheepish when it comes to television, disowning it by disavowal or by inventing subtle, innocuous disguises for it. Why is this? In this book, first published in 1982, Peter Conrad argues that our unease stems from the way that the medium works: it absorbs the messages it transmits, it invents a reality of its own and ends by luring the world into the confines of its box. Television's achievement is to have estranged us from the reality which it puports to represent, but which it actually refracts. This invasion of our lives is monitored and projected in programmes designed to ape the human routine. Following a discussion of television as furniture, Peter Conrad explores its various versions of reality: the simulated conversation of the talk show, the competitive consumerism of the games, the messianic commercials, the eventless protraction of the soap operas and the camera's incitement of happenings which the television calls news.