Category Archives: Theories

How “Fresh Off The Boat” highlights the potential power of Peak TV

Part of what makes television so beloved is its familiarity. Until the last 20 years or so, shows more or less thrived on repetition. To a great extent, that precept is still 100% true: Large numbers of people watch shows precisely because they know precisely what they are going to get. And there’s nothing particularly […]

The myth of “true crime”: “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson” and “Making A Murderer”

About halfway through the upcoming season of “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson,” a lawyer for one side of the case utters these words to his colleagues: “Jurors go with the narrative that makes sense. We’re here to tell a story. Our job is to tell that story better than the other side […]

When the parts are greater than the sum

What do you do when you love a core aspect of a television show, but aren’t sure you actually are enjoying the show as a whole? It’s something I’ve wrestled with over the past few months with several shows that other critics have almost universally lauded. “You’re The Worst,” “Jessica Jones,” and “Transparent” are all shows […]

Why it might be time to kill the post-mortem

At the end of the “Hannibal” series finale, I tweeted that it was a perfect end to that show. I don’t think it was a perfect finale, and I thought overall Season 3 was the weakest of all the seasons to date. But I thought the last ten minutes or so were gorgeously rendered and […]

In Which Ryan Once Again Talks About How We Talk About TV

So let’s talk about the state of TV, and the state of talking about TV. You could put together an excellent year-end “Best Of” list consisting of nothing but shows that aired new episodes between Memorial Day and the upcoming Labor Day. “UnREAL,” “Mr. Robot,” “Hannibal,” “Review,” “Bojack Horseman,” and “Rectify” are all shows you’re […]

Plot versus story, redux

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: When it comes to TV, plot is not important. That thought rang out while watching the fourth episode of this season of “Orange Is The New Black” the other night. (Yes, I’m “behind,” or whatever that means in the days of bingewatching. Whatever.) Very little has […]

The Heart Over The Head

Part of why I stopped writing so many episodic recaps was functional: The pace at which I was writing them outstripped my desire to keep doing them. But part of it was also due to that fact that I couldn’t do the type of writing I always wanted to do, because so much of that […]

The difference between joy and relief in the modern TV landscape

Savoring is the new binging. Well, it would be if I were Emperor Of Pop Culture. But since that position doesn’t exist, and since I probably wouldn’t have the savvy or martial forces to capture such a title, bingewatching is the predominant way many people currently consume television. It’s a little strange to step back […]

All Art Was Not Made For You

It’s 2015, yet we still need to disabuse some of the notion that not all art is made for them. I’m writing in this in the wake of James Poniewozik’s excellent piece today about the “Not For Me” moment in television viewing. He says a lot of things I wish I had said first, but […]

Dear Internet: Forgive Damon Lindelof, and Forgive Yourselves

The title really says it all. To be clear up front: I’m talking to those that forced Lindelof to leave Twitter, those that bitterly complained about “Lost” with every tweet he delivered, those that nearly four and a half years after the series finale can’t take that episode’s sole mantra and simply let go. You. […]