byClaire?

Zulkey

IstartedwritingTVrecapsandreviewsafewyearsagowhenafriendofafriendatamajornewspapertoldmetheywereexpandingtheirTVcoverageandneededpeopledocoverafewshows,soIpickeduptwoprogramsIalreadywatchedalot,‘TheOffice’and‘ER。

’Itsoundedeasyenough,writingmythoughtsonshowsIalreadyhadopinionsonanyway,althoughittookseveraltriestogetthetoneright?

—?

sometimesitstilldoes。

Somepublicationswantalotofrecap,andsomepreferthatyouassumethatthereaderssawtheshowandjusttouchonthemajorpoints。

Someeditorsencourageplentyofsassmouthandsnark,whereasotherswon’ttolerateevenahintataswear?

word。

Typically,I’massignedtorevieweitheranepisodeoraseriesofashow。

Iwatchtheshow,andasquicklyaspossible,butasthoughtfullyandwithasmuch“voice”aspossible,recordmyimpressionsofthequalityoftheepisodealongwiththe?

recap。

It’safunjob,onethatI’mluckytohave,period,letalonemakeafewbucksoff,butlikeanywritinggig,itcomeswithitsownwritey?

lessons。



LongscripteddramasandrealityTVshowsaretheeasiesttocover。

Half-hourcomediesaresomeofthehardest。

Itcanbedifficulttostretcharecapofahalf-hourshowintoseveralgoodparagraphsandyoucanonlysay“…anditwasfunnywhen…”somanytimes。

Alsoreallyhardtoturnintosomething:resultsshowsthataren’tfinales。

They’reusuallyallfillerexceptfortheresults?

—?

thebestrealityTVcompetitionshowsarefiguringouthowtomaketheresultsshowsworthwatchingbecauseotherwisepeoplewilljustskipandreadaboutwhathappenedonline。

Withadrama,though,youcanusuallyfindsomethingtosayabouttheseason(orseries)asawholeeveniftheepisodedidn’tgiveyouatontowork?

with。



Screenersmakelifesomucheasier。

IthinkIautomaticallyrelaxandlikeashowmoreifIknowIhaveadayortwotothinkaboutitafterIwatchitthanifIonlyhaveanhourortwotowriteitup。

Knockingoutawriteuponatwo-hourepisodeof‘AmericanIdol’anhourafterseeingitandmakingitcomprehensive,entertaining,andspelling-errorfreeissometimesachallenge。



LivechattingrealityTVshowfinalesiswaymorefunthanwritingaboutthem。

Asgreatajobitistowriteabouttelevision,actuallytalkingtolike-mindedpeopleinrealtimeandtryingtoone-upeachotherwithjokesandobservationsismorefun。

They’relikeTV-watchingpartiesbutwithoutthatpeskyrealliveinteractionthatgoesalongwiththatwholehaving-to-put-on-a-brathing。



Ifyoutrulyloveashow,don’treviewit。

Igetaskedoccasionallytoreview‘RuPaul’sDragRace’butIwon’t,atleastnotfull-time,becauseIlikesavingthatshowaspureentertainment,justmeandtheTVandnonotesorobservations。

BecauseeventhoughwritingaboutTVisn’tespeciallygruelingwork,it’sstillwork,andifyoureallylovelettingashowtakeyouawayforalittlewhile,it’sbestjusttokeepitasentertainmentwithoutturningitintoanassignment,torememberwhatit’sliketojustwatchsomethingwithouttakingnotes。

IdolikesubbingforpeoplewhocovershowsIwatchjustforfun,though。

There’slesspressuretocomeupwithsomethingnewtosay,andyougettocomeatitfromafan’sperspective,notacritic’s。

Plus,ifforsomereasonyourubthereadersthewrongway,itwasjustaone-timethingandtheywon’tbebacknextweektotellyouwhatanassyou?

are。



Commenterswilleatyoursoulifyouletthem。

Ihaveothercriticfriendswhocanavoidcommentscompletelyornotletthemgettothem。

Iamnotoneofthesepeople。

WhydoIreadcommentsonmypieces?

BecauseI’mamasochist,that’swhy。

IguessIshouldstopbeingsurprisedwhenpeopleusetheinternet’sanonymitytobejerks。

Beingtoldthatyourmothershouldhavehadabortedyouwhenshehadthechancebecauseofyouropinionon‘Lost’(thisdidn’thappentome,ithappenedtoacolleague)nevergoesdowneasy。

IlearntolaughadayortwolaterbutI’mstillnaivelyshakensometimesbyhowrudepeoplecanbe(Myopinionononeepisodeof‘SNL’madeonepersondecidethatIam“literallyretarded”)。

Thatsaid,IalsofeelcrappyifacommenterpolitelypointsoutthatImadeamistakeormissedsomething。



Wheneverpeoplefindoutyou’reaTVcriticandaskyouwhat’sgood,withoutfail,youdrawablankandthenyoufeellikeanidiot。

IfeellikeIcan’tkeepsaying‘TheWire’forforever,I’mafraidtoadmittohowloyala‘Bridezillas’viewerIam。

Alternately,theyhaven’theardofanyoftheshowsyoudorecommend。

Or,theywatchedafewepisodesofyourfavoriteshowandhateditandthenyousay“Oh,well,”andsecretlyjudge?

them。



Networkswagisfuntoreceive,andthenyouthrowitaway。

It’sentertainingtoreceiveabigsillypackagefromanetworkinthemail,untilIrealizethatIhavetodisposeofallthepackagingthatitcameinandwhatdoIneedwithsomeofthisswag,anyway?

ExceptthetimethatanetworksentmesomepancakemixandsyrupforChristmas。

Thatwas?

great。



Goingoutandhavingafewdrinksbeforeyougohometowritesoundslikeamuchbetterandmoreenjoyableideathanitis。

Forsomethingthatsoundssofunandeasy,youhavetotakeitprettyseriouslyinordertodoadecentjobatit,especiallysincethereareprobably200peoplewhowouldgladlytakeovercoveringforyou。

Thisgoesdoubleifyouhaveadayjobandcan’taffordtosleepinbecauseyoustartedwatchingthetwo-hour‘Idol’“event”at10?

PM。



Changeisgood。

‘AmericanIdol’isonlytwoepisodesinbuttheconsensusamongstreviewersisthat,sofar,it’snottooterrible。

Inmyexperience,arealityTVshowchangingupitsformat,ifevenslightly,isagoodthing,atleastfromawritingperspective。

When‘SoYouThinkYouCanDance’incorporateditsAll-Starslastseason,itmightnothavebeenforthebestoftheshow,butatleastIcouldevaluatethechangesandaskthereaderswhattheythought。

Whenashowreststoolonginformatyoucangettoocomfortable(EventuallyIhadahardtimefindingmuchtosayabout‘ProjectRunway’forthefirst75%ofeachepisode,sinceitstartedtofeellikeeverythingpriortotherunwaywasprettyirrelevant,unlessTimGunndidsomethingnoteworthy)。



TimGunn,overthephone,isasniceasyou’dhopehe’dbe。

Better,even。

Classy,charming,intelligent,friendly:IwassoexcitedafterIinterviewedhimthatIdidahorriblejobspell-checkingtheinterviewandletitgetpostedwhenitreallyshouldn’thave。

IjustwantedtobragtotheworldthatItalkedtohim。

Alsoverynice,despiteprobablybeingricherthananyoneelseIknow:Nigel?

Lythgoe。

ClaireZulkeylivesinChicago。

Youcanlearnsomuchmoreabouther?

here。

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