May 13, 2014
What Can You Do With a Degree in Watching TV?

As a 10-year-old in northern Idaho, Anne Helen Petersen was fascinated by celebrity culture. She’d tear through gossip magazines, giving ratings to different issues. Fast-forward 20 years, and she’s turned her obsession into a career reporting on media, writing about everything from the role of the paparazzi to Jennifer Lawrence’s “cool girl” image to the women in True Detective.  Her forthcoming book, Scandals of a Classic Hollywood, was borne out of a series of essays for The Hairpin.
Petersen also teaches film and media studies at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington—her courses cover subjects from celebrity gossip to Mad Men to Hollywood stardom. She spoke with me about her approach to teaching media studies and why she’s leaving academia to write features for Buzzfeed. 
Read more. [Image: National Archives and Records Administration/Wikimedia Commons]

What Can You Do With a Degree in Watching TV?

As a 10-year-old in northern Idaho, Anne Helen Petersen was fascinated by celebrity culture. She’d tear through gossip magazines, giving ratings to different issues. Fast-forward 20 years, and she’s turned her obsession into a career reporting on media, writing about everything from the role of the paparazzi to Jennifer Lawrence’s “cool girl” image to the women in True Detective.  Her forthcoming book, Scandals of a Classic Hollywood, was borne out of a series of essays for The Hairpin.

Petersen also teaches film and media studies at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington—her courses cover subjects from celebrity gossip to Mad Men to Hollywood stardom. She spoke with me about her approach to teaching media studies and why she’s leaving academia to write features for Buzzfeed.

Read more. [Image: National Archives and Records Administration/Wikimedia Commons]

May 12, 2014
Mad Men Reveals Its Real Madman

Dissecting “The Runaways,” the fifth episode of the seventh season.
Read more. [Image: AMC]

Mad Men Reveals Its Real Madman

Dissecting “The Runaways,” the fifth episode of the seventh season.

Read more. [Image: AMC]

May 12, 2014
Is Game of Thrones Just Killing Time?

Our roundtable on “The Laws of God and Men,” the sixth episode of the HBO show’s fourth season.
Read more. [Image: HBO]

Is Game of Thrones Just Killing Time?

Our roundtable on “The Laws of God and Men,” the sixth episode of the HBO show’s fourth season.

Read more. [Image: HBO]

May 8, 2014
Why Nobody Writes About Popular TV Shows

On TV, the concept of “popularity” is easy to measure and hard to understand.
In music, the most popular songs are inescapable, and their artists become national celebrities. In movies, the most popular films are feted in the Monday papers and widely acknowledged, even if they only compete for the special-effects awards in March. But on television, the world of criticism and the world of viewership aren’t merely askew; they’re mostly on different planets. No self-respecting TV critic writes about NCIS: Los Angeles, ever—ever—even though the all-time most-popular episode of Game of Thrones (which is, itself, the all-time most-popular HBO show) got fewer viewers than an NCIS: LA rerun. As I wrote a few months ago, the most essayed-about show (Girls), most tweeted-about show (Pretty Little Liars), and most buzzed-about show (at the time: House of Cards) sum to half the average audience of NCIS (which is hardly essayed, tweeted, or buzzed about at all).
More than other entertainment industries, TV seems to play by the rules of a peculiar Faustian bargain: Be popular and scarcely acknowledged; or be praised and scarcely watched.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]

Why Nobody Writes About Popular TV Shows

On TV, the concept of “popularity” is easy to measure and hard to understand.

In music, the most popular songs are inescapable, and their artists become national celebrities. In movies, the most popular films are feted in the Monday papers and widely acknowledged, even if they only compete for the special-effects awards in March. But on television, the world of criticism and the world of viewership aren’t merely askew; they’re mostly on different planets. No self-respecting TV critic writes about NCIS: Los Angeles, ever—ever—even though the all-time most-popular episode of Game of Thrones (which is, itself, the all-time most-popular HBO show) got fewer viewers than an NCIS: LA rerun. As I wrote a few months ago, the most essayed-about show (Girls), most tweeted-about show (Pretty Little Liars), and most buzzed-about show (at the time: House of Cards) sum to half the average audience of NCIS (which is hardly essayed, tweeted, or buzzed about at all).

More than other entertainment industries, TV seems to play by the rules of a peculiar Faustian bargain: Be popular and scarcely acknowledged; or be praised and scarcely watched.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

May 8, 2014
Dead Bats and Defective Plans: A Quick The Americans Fact Check

May 5, 2014
Mad Men Enters the Future—and Maybe the Peggy Olson Era

Dissecting “The Monolith,” the fourth episode of the seventh season
Read more. [Image: AMC]

Mad Men Enters the Future—and Maybe the Peggy Olson Era

Dissecting “The Monolith,” the fourth episode of the seventh season

Read more. [Image: AMC]

May 5, 2014
Just How Game Changing Was That Revelation on Game of Thrones?

Our roundtable on “First of His Name,” the fifth episode of the HBO show’s fourth season.
Read more. [Image: Helen Sloan/Courtesy of HBO]

Just How Game Changing Was That Revelation on Game of Thrones?

Our roundtable on “First of His Name,” the fifth episode of the HBO show’s fourth season.

Read more. [Image: Helen Sloan/Courtesy of HBO]

May 2, 2014
Game of Thrones - Sex and Violence = ‘European Castle Documentary’

This week, China Central Television (CCTV) made an uncharacteristically bold move: It aired the first season pilot of Game of Thrones, the popular HBO fantasy drama renowned for gruesome violence and graphic sex scenes. The move is likely part of a broader plan to help boost the audience for the country’s state-run traditional television stations, whose notoriously dull, heavily regulated programming has lost viewers to video streaming sites.

Yet CCTV evidently had to hew to rules on “public morality” that the Community Party endorses; the pilot episode of the first season, “Winter is Coming” is about 11 minutes shorter than HBO’s and is dubbed in Mandarin.
If the internet response to CCTV’s tidied-up Game of Thrones is anything to go by, viewers are way too used to watching both pirated and licensed versions of foreign shows to swallow Communist Party-approved drama.
Read more. [Image: HBO]

Game of Thrones - Sex and Violence = ‘European Castle Documentary’

This week, China Central Television (CCTV) made an uncharacteristically bold move: It aired the first season pilot of Game of Thrones, the popular HBO fantasy drama renowned for gruesome violence and graphic sex scenes. The move is likely part of a broader plan to help boost the audience for the country’s state-run traditional television stations, whose notoriously dull, heavily regulated programming has lost viewers to video streaming sites.

Yet CCTV evidently had to hew to rules on “public morality” that the Community Party endorses; the pilot episode of the first season, “Winter is Coming” is about 11 minutes shorter than HBO’s and is dubbed in Mandarin.

If the internet response to CCTV’s tidied-up Game of Thrones is anything to go by, viewers are way too used to watching both pirated and licensed versions of foreign shows to swallow Communist Party-approved drama.

Read more. [Image: HBO]

May 2, 2014
An Algorithm Knows Who Liked the How I Met Your Mother Finale

Everybody hated the How I Met Your Mother finale, right? Well, maybe not. The hour-long conclusion to the popular CBS sitcom was the target of much derision after it aired March 31. (See: Here, here, here, here, and here.)
But data, as it sometimes does, tells a different story. Most of the people surveyed by the social analytics platform Canvs felt good about the finale. More than twice as many people either enjoyed it or called it “great” than those who said it “sucked.”
Canvs, which formally launched last week, uses sentiment analysis to figure out how people feel about TV shows and other entertainment. That analysis is then combined with scary-specific data profiling, so Canvs can tell its clients not just how people feel about what they’re watching but what kinds of people feel certain ways.
Read more. [Image: CBS]

An Algorithm Knows Who Liked the How I Met Your Mother Finale

Everybody hated the How I Met Your Mother finale, right? Well, maybe not. The hour-long conclusion to the popular CBS sitcom was the target of much derision after it aired March 31. (See: Here, here, here, here, and here.)

But data, as it sometimes does, tells a different story. Most of the people surveyed by the social analytics platform Canvs felt good about the finale. More than twice as many people either enjoyed it or called it “great” than those who said it “sucked.”

Canvs, which formally launched last week, uses sentiment analysis to figure out how people feel about TV shows and other entertainment. That analysis is then combined with scary-specific data profiling, so Canvs can tell its clients not just how people feel about what they’re watching but what kinds of people feel certain ways.

Read more. [Image: CBS]

April 28, 2014
Playing House: Finally, a TV Show That Gets Female Friendships Right

USA’s new sitcom understands that many women’s most important relationships are platonic.
Read more. [Image: USA Networks]

Playing House: Finally, a TV Show That Gets Female Friendships Right

USA’s new sitcom understands that many women’s most important relationships are platonic.

Read more. [Image: USA Networks]

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