Emily Nussbaum, the Pulitzer Prize-winning television critic for The New Yorker, explores the fascinating and ever-evolving medium of television in I Like to Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution. This insightful, thought-provoking collection of essays includes both previously published and new work, with topics ranging from “difficult women” and exploring the legacy of “Sex and the City” to arts criticism in the age of Trump and how “Black-ish” rethinks the family sitcom.
In the author’s preface, she explains her selection process: The essays aren’t about her favorite shows or based on any sort of rating system. Instead, she writes, “These reviews are simply the ones I thought held up the best as criticism—and also the ones that most effectively made my argument about TV.” And hold up they do, as Nussbaum turns her gaze on Joan Rivers, “Jane the Virgin,” “True Detective” and product integration.
It seems fitting that Nussbaum begins her entertaining collection with a new essay entitled “The Big Picture: How Buffy the Vampire Slayer Turned Me into a TV Critic.” Here she contrasts that show with the cultural impact of “The Sopranos.” She goes on to explore the many ways in which television has changed—and revolutionized—since her own TV-watching childhood in the 1970s. And she reveals how this public square of our culture has continued to reshape and reinvent itself anew in often surprising ways.
It’s also here, in this first essay, that Nussbaum reveals her own model of criticism: “It’s about celebrating what never stops changing.” Whether you’ve long been a TV fan or you’ve recently found yourself returning to this fascinating medium for long binge-watching sessions, this is a book you won’t want to miss.