Author of the week
Emily Nussbaum has become, at a time when the breed is dying, a must-read critic, said Christopher Borrelli in the Chicago Tribune. But she didn’t consider criticism a calling—or TV a subject that could lead to winning a Pulitzer Prize, as she did in 2016. For several years after college, she was, she says, “a drifty, crunchy person” who finally entered graduate school thinking she’d become a literature professor. But she was also a fan of the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which some friends couldn’t understand. “My odd supervillain origin story of sorts,” she says, “is that I would get frustrated about how people would talk, understandably, about the brilliance of The Sopranos, but discuss it as more than TV. Whereas Buffy was condescended to.” Determined to establish that artful and important TV comes in many forms, she began posting anonymously on the influential chat forum TelevisionWithoutPity.com. A decade in magazines followed before The New Yorker made her its television critic in 2011.
Though it mainly consists of New Yorker reviews, Nussbaum’s new book, I Like to Watch, is more than a greatest-hits collection, said Michelle Hart in O magazine. She arranged the existing essays and added new ones so that they’d provide a complete argument for why television deserves to be taken seriously as a creative art form and expression of culture. She and like-minded critics have, of course, won the battle that started for her with Buffy. And so much more quality TV is being made that even she can’t manage to see every worthwhile show. “I would like to watch more. It’s enriching,” she says. “But you know what also enriches? Living your life.” ■