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The restructuring of unemployment and welfare benefits under Hartz IV hit former East Germans already suffering economically since unification particularly hard, forcing many into a condition of precarity for which the governing ideology held them responsible. Frustrated in her search for suitable work, Ilka Bessin adapted the self-management model advocated by the reforms to transform her story of marginalization and failure into a comedy success as Ossi trash princess Cindy aus Marzahn. Cultivated by commercial television, Bessin’s Cindy was a product, purveyor, and critic of Germany’s neoliberal economic policies, illustrating the fraught, collusive relationship between politics and popular culture.

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Copyright © 2018 The German Studies Association. This article first appeared in German Studies Review 41:1 (2018), 123-142. Reprinted with permission by Johns Hopkins University Press.

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