How to be a better TV recapper, if you insist on being one of those at all.

by waxbanks

Don’t say these things:

  • ‘Character X had Emotion N in that scene (unstated: ‘…which is obvious, because the actor was “acting” that feeling on the screen’). I can relate. I had a feeling like that in college.’

If you’re ever tempted to share an insight into human behaviour that you gleaned from watching Garden State or equivalent, don’t. Don’t, don’t, please don’t; and also piss off. And for God’s sake, we can see the actors acting right there. No one needs you point out when a character is feeling an emotion.

  • ‘Character Y’s storyline this season explores Themes A and B’ (unstated: ‘…which are obvious to any adult who’s paid even the slightest attention to the show this year’)

Spot-the-symbolism and let’s-enumerate-‘themes’ are stupid parlor games writers play when they’re out of original ideas. (That’s why they’re so popular in high school/college English classes.) If you go babbling about the symbolic register you’d damn well better have something more interesting to say than ‘I liked this.’

  • ‘Character Z would never do C or D, which totally took me out of the story’

Characters aren’t people, they’re devices — story elements — and your disbelief isn’t of interest. If you can’t justify your disengagement other than ‘He would never act that way!’ then you’re not a critic. That’s one of the things critics do, for Christ’s sake.

  • ‘Let me talk about the psychology of this nonexistent being whose every action is scripted by six demographically identical Hollywood hacks’

See above.

  • ‘I can’t point to any single element that made this sequence work, but…’

If you don’t know why the scene works, shut your mouth and figure it out, or else just give up.

  • ‘Here are twenty different phrases, every one histrionically equivalent to “Character Q performed the following actions”‘

You don’t need to melodramatize character actions on a TV melodrama. What’s happening onscreen is clear to everyone who’s paying attention; you shouldn’t bother with anyone else. If you have nothing to say, say nothing instead of hyperventilating to meet word count.

  • ‘Here is a list of awesome moments from tonight’s episode involving Character T!’

Oh, that happened? To a main character on the show I just watched? Well, knock me over with a feather.


You’re welcome, rube.

(N.B.: I’ve probably made these mistakes in the past. I’d like to think I haven’t made them in a longish while. Dunno though.)

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