The life of a TV critic in the "golden age" of TV

Adriene Hill Sep 18, 2015
HTML EMBED:
COPY

The life of a TV critic in the "golden age" of TV

Adriene Hill Sep 18, 2015
HTML EMBED:
COPY

There’s a whole lot of good television to watch. By some accounts, there will be close to 400 scripted shows by the end of the year. Which makes it a great time to be a TV fan. And an exhausting time to be a TV critic.

I sat down with TV critics Brian Lowry from Variety and Mary McNamara from the LA Times to talk about what it’s like when your job is to watch a whole lot of television.

Brian Lowry: There was a time when you were a critic, when you could focus your attention on sort of a part of the year from after Labor Day to Memorial Day. And then there was some opportunity to catch your breath; and focusing and re-marshaling your efforts and energy for the fall. That cycle now never ends.

Mary McNamara: When I’m talking to editors at the paper, I say imagine that you are the sports editor and now suddenly there are 50 new sports and they each have 50 teams, and you are supposed to cover it with the same amount of people; that is what is happening in television right now.

Lowry: There are as many shows premiering in June or July oftentimes as there are premiering in September and there are as certainly as many premiering in January or February.

McNamara: It takes like two hours to program my DVR, because I have one of the DVRs where you can tape 15 things, and I have the east coast feed so I can tape it in two time zones, and then it is this whole, I don’t want to fill up on this time frame thing. It’s insane.

Lowry: There are days where I probably watch 8 or 10 hours of television. And the reason I don’t want to do that is that one: I will look like the Pillsbury Dough Boy. And two: you start to reach a point where you’re just numb.

McNamara: I can only watch four hours without a break. You get this special headache. I mean there are different headaches: you get the headache from scripted drama and the documentary, but the worst headache is the one if there’s a news event, and you have to watch continuously — There’s a headache I can’t even describe.

Lowry: What I will occasionally do, I will confess, is that if I get a show, especially if they sent out four or five episodes, and I see the first two and I’m not really digging it, I might watch the third and forth while I’m writing.

McNamara: You know I’m watching it all the time, I’m watching television all the time. Which is really great because I have three kids and so when I tell them, “stop watching so much TV,” it doesn’t have the credibility that it might. 

 

 

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.