Jonny Auping | Longreads | June 2019 | 20 minutes (5,447 words)
Until very recently in its relatively young life, television was considered to have the same creative merit as any other household appliance — perhaps less, since the device itself was referred to as the “Idiot Box” and “chewing gum for the eyes.” Having a passionate debate about television would have been like having a passionate debate about the microwave.
But in her new book, I Like to Watch, Emily Nussbaum, the New Yorker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning television critic, makes the same argument she’s been making, consciously and unconsciously, for 20 years: Television is worth thinking and talking about.
I Like to Watch is a collection of essays that Nussbaum has written, most of them originally for New York magazine and the New Yorker, about television shows that served as cultural touchstones in their time as well as short-lived programs that had more to say than anybody but their loyal fan bases ever realized.
Taken as one, Nussbaum’s essays represent her perspectives and experiences traveling through decades of TV shows that were intentionally and unintentionally commenting on the moments they were being created in. Her writing doesn’t necessarily demand that you take her point of view as much as it brings to focus how clearly you could form your own point of view through a deeper examination of the characters, plots, and themes of the shows you love. I Like to Watch is, fundamentally, an argument for television as art. Read more…