Emily Nussbaum at Skidmore

writer emily nussbaum

Update: It was announced Monday afternoon that Emily Nussbaum won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for criticism.
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Could be interesting/fun: Emily Nussbaum -- the TV critic for The New Yorker -- will be at Skidmore Thursday evening for a talk. It's at 7 pm in Palamountain Hall -- it's free and open to the public.

Event blurbage: "She will be lecturing on her time in journalism, the relationship between journalism and media and how online journalism is changing!" Nussbaum has written for/worked at a bunch of outlets: NY Mag, Slate, NYT, Nerve, Lingua Franca, Television Without Pity.

Here's a clip from her 2015 end-of-year list for The New Yorker, taking on the topic of "prestige" television:

But the thumb is already on the scale for "Fargo," because "Fargo" fits so perfectly into what really qualifies as "niche TV." That niche is "prestige TV," or "golden-age TV," which contains the subset of shows that get recommended to everyone, of whatever demographic, by default, as required viewing. These are the shows that even people who don't watch much TV feel confident describing as "the best show ever." In aggregate, they tend to follow in the tradition of "The Sopranos"--and not, say, of "My So-Called Life." They're often dramas, often violent, often masculine in their themes; they tend to be made by straight male auteurs, they're generally showy in their cinematic style, and they're grim, gritty and "adult"--they're hard to watch. "Fargo" has a ton of pleasures, but no one describes it as a "guilty pleasure."
Yet the truth is that this season, and for the past several years, the areas where you tend to find the most interesting, and the most stirring, and the most original, kinds of TV--where you discover shows that move the medium forward--are often in supposedly "optional" genres. These shows are overtly humane, or melodramatic, or comic, or philosophical. Some of them are shows the whole family can watch, like "Jane the Virgin" A lot are about feminine topics, or queer ones, or they feature explorations of racial identity. Some are amazing comedies--like "Broad City" or "Bojack Horseman"--that win praise, but not the top-of-the-list status of hard dramas. When you begin to make comparisons, and reduce complex art to numbers, it gets hard to uproot these values, to see that "Scandal" is a much better show than "House of Cards," and always has been. This is why "Mr. Robot" (a smart, audacious anti-hero show about the foul underside of capitalism) shows up on many more lists than "UnREAL" (a smart, audacious anti-heroine show about the foul underside of capitalism.) From my perspective, "UnREAL" is a notch better than the (terrific) Mr. Robot--but it's a harder sell, because it doesn't have that prestige package around it. It needs a harder push to get some viewers to recognize its substance. And that's what turns a television critic from an accountant into an evangelist.

photo: kellywritershouse on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Comments

Well deserved! I love Emily Nussbaum's TV reviews and they inform a lot of my choices about what to watch. I'll definitely try to make it to her talk on Thursday.

Emily Nussbaum loves "The Middle" for all the right reasons, and so do I. Can't make the talk, but this gal is sharp, observant and worth reading in The New Yorker.

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