broadcityThis week for Dear Television, I reviewed Comedy Central’s new sketchy, sketch comedy series, Broad City:

Broad City was born in improv theaters and on the internet. It’s got a gritty hand-held feel, an associative style, and it relies less on a set of characters or observations than it does on a kind of madcap, accretive sensibility. In other words, these episodes simply turn Abbi and Ilana loose in the city and see what happens. The bits are staged, of course, but there’s a spontaneity to the whole exercise that is unique on Comedy Central right now.”

“Sketchy Comedy”



truedThis week for Dear Television at The Los Angeles Review of Books, I wrote about the gnarly, haunting, maybe brilliant True Detective and the completely magnetic screen performance at its center:

“So far, the most compelling reading I can figure for this somewhat inscrutable show is that it is only masquerading as a two-hander, gritty buddy cop series. [Matthew] McConaughey’s Rust Cohle is an engine, and everything and everybody this show can find is being scooped up and thrown into the furnace.”

“Heavenly Creatures”




Dear Television is back on the Girls beat for The Los Angeles Review of Books. Here’s my post on the first new episodes of season three.

“One of the possible trajectories of this show — and one still alive to some extent or another — is the slow or catastrophic dissolution of the hermetic core that has so frequently been criticized as too insular, too privileged, too much… In this spirit, it’s been frustrating and fun to watch possible Extinction-Level Events — like Donald Glover’s much-touted black Republican or Kathryn Hahn’s achingly, soulfully harried mother — hurtle toward the series only burn up upon entry into Planet Horvath’s atmosphere.”

“Your Urine-Soaked Life”



Meryl-in-Silkwood-meryl-streep-4552858-640-340This is my debut essay for Slate Book Review on Karina Longworth’s extraordinary critical biography of Meryl Streep and why film acting remains such a mystery to scholars and critics.

“We know that there are processes involved in the creation of a screen performance, but, more often than not, even the process stories we tell about actors are about a kind of prestidigitation—Daniel Day-Lewis becomes possessed by Abraham Lincoln or Charlize Theron disappears within the grotesque visage of a serial killer. We know how acting works, but there is a horizon beyond which the craft remains opaque, even mystical.”

“Disenchantment Artists”