It doesn’t take any special talent to provide a recap of what happened on last night’s episode of “The Big Bang Theory,” which is pretty much all you get from most TV bloggers. Yet, every so often, you find a true gem. The kind of blogger who rants and raves right along with the most devoted fans and takes you on a journey of exploration into the show, its cultural and societal implications and what your mad passion for a particular slice of entertainment pie might say about you. If you’ve been longing for a kindred spirit in the world of television commentary or simply seek a deeper cut through the white noise of recaps and episode guides, here are three TV bloggers who deserve your attention.
1. Willa Paskin
Charmingly insightful and with a brilliant grasp on the television landscape is Willa Paskin of “Salon.” Paskin demonstrates a fangirl passion throughout her writing, but her focus is never too narrow. She effortlessly points out to the reader how her current small screen obsession is woven into the larger tapestry of television entertainment. In “ ‘New Girl’ tests the ‘Moonlighting Curse,’ ” Paskin waxes on about a smooch between Jess and Nick, and whether it will be the kiss of death for the show, akin to the tanking of “Moonlighting” after fans finally got to see David and Maddie give in to the long-standing sexual chemistry. Paskin also notes other shows that did it the right way and have survived the hookup of the stars, like “Bones” and “Castle.”
In another vein, Paskin is also able to gush like a schoolgirl with a crush over her favorite shows and characters, but she doesn’t do it in a way that turns you off. In “A mash note to one of ‘Bunheads’ bunheads,” Paskin reveals her growing adoration for the character of Ginny and all the nuances that have embellished the arc of Ginny’s development and made her the “breakout bunhead.” When Ginny reveals that she’s lost her virginity, Paskin describes it as “one of the gentlest, most articulate expressions of teenage girl lust I’ve ever seen on a TV show.” It’s that type of empathetic and lyrical prose that gives Paskin the ability to spark your interest enough – and even pull on your heartstrings – to get you to tune in to a show that was entirely unappealing before reading Paskin’s lovingly crafted commentary.
2. Elaine Blair
Elaine Blair is a TV blogger disguised as a bibliophile and she unabashedly flaunts her love of both books and the boob tube in her engaging analytical writing that puts television on par with other artistic expressions and in doing so expands its cultural implications right into everyday life. As a writer for the “New York Review of Books,” Blair wields her pen (or keyboard) to illuminate the dark corners of pop culture as well as bask in its sometimes blinding sunlight. In “Single Women and the Sitcom,” Blair explores the relationship between idealized romantic comedies and their inevitable happy endings and the almost terminal nature of sitcoms that can be abruptly canceled, often leaving nothing but loose ends as a viewer’s final reward. However, she perfectly sums up our masochistic urge to keep coming back for more, “Sitcoms offer a salve for the bruises of urban single life.”
And Blair’s writing is also a kind of salve for the bumps and scrapes of modern living, delivering so much more than five-minute wham, bam blog recaps. In “The Loves of Lena Dunham,” Blair takes us on a journey into the portrayal of love, sex, comfort and relationships as seen in a number of Lena Dunham projects including “Girls,” and points out how, as observers, we tend to cringe at the raw and sometimes ugly displays Dunham shoves in our faces. Yet it’s those honest portrayals that we have the most experience with in real life. Blair’s writing inspires thoughtful reflection that only enhances the television landscape.
3. Myles McNutt
Melding the worlds of academia and entertainment, Myles McNutt offers intense analysis of everyone’s favorite shows – and a few you might not have heard of. His analyses go beyond the significance of a single episode and instead tie together the broader themes of a show throughout the current and past seasons, the genre and into the realms of cultural and media studies. On his blog, “Cultural Learnings,” McNutt dives in with gusto, taking on everything from the absurd claim that “24” is apolitical to the strange phenomenon that was NBC’s “The Sound of Music Live.”
McNutt has a searing intelligence, but that doesn’t get in the way of his writing. Anyone who can watch a live broadcast of “The Sound of Music” and rather than going for the snark, call it “a noble effort that created some decidedly powerful images” is worth a closer look. He is compulsively readable and always thought-provoking. McNutt elevates television viewing and the art of the TV blog to new heights with his sometimes college lecture-worthy prose. For viewers who are ready to fully engage their brains with their love of the season’s hottest shows, McNutt is definitely the blogger to guide that journey.
What kind of commentary do you look for when reading about your favorite show?
Photo courtesy of Ritesh Nayak/Flickr
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