I Like to Watch

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 26 Aug 2019

Member Reviews

A winning combination of short but sweet reviews and in depth profiles, this was a great read! I did enjoy the essays about shows and showrunners I had watched, but still enjoyed the reviews of shows I'd never seen.
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I thought Emily’s essays on some of America’s favorite TV shows were eye opening and thought provoking. I read this book in one setting because Emily’s love of TV made me love it more. It had to keep reading to find out her thoughts and som3 behind the scenes of shows I love as well as those that were new to me.
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An interesting collection of essays on television by TV critic Emily Nussbaum. It encompasses everything from review to thought pieces to celebrity profiles, mostly stuff that was previously published along with two new essays. As someone who has long enjoyed not just watching TV but also reading about it, I really enjoyed reading this. I often found myself nodding along with her, but even if I disagreed with her take on something or hadn't watched a show she was talking about, I still found what she had to say interesting and thought-provoking.
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This is an insightful collection of essays critiquing some of the most popular tv shows of the past 20 years. Even when I didn't agree with the author's assessment, I felt like I still gained a deeper understanding of the shows we watch and are obsessed with. Her writing style is engaging and accessible, and her ideas come across intelligently, but not too academic. Highly recommended for anyone interested in pop culture.
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Phenomenal collection of pieces on an idiosyncratic range of television shows.  Nussbaum is thoughtful, admirably unpredictable in her likes and dislikes, and is dedicated to reviewing TV as TV - novelistic or cinematic TV shows get no credit for aping the virtues of other art forms.  

Also, she’s a hoot - funny and irreverent.  

Buy with confidence.
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Emily Nussbaum is an incredibly gifted reviewer and her writing is always something I look forward to. I was excited to hear of this book, and am impressed by this original idea. A lot of the writing in this book is personal while remaining objective, if that makes sense. However, I think I was the wrong audience for this book as it would have resonated well with me had I seen more of the shows that were referenced. I maintain that it is a good read, is very well written and would be quite enjoyable, (similar to talking with a very articulate friend about a show you really like)  if you really enjoy television!
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I loved to read I Like to Watch, Pulitzer-winning critic Emily Nussbaum’s new collection of reviews and essays celebrating TV. Whether you pick this book up looking for new shows to add to your watchlist (they’re there in spades) or to revisit old favorites in essays about “The Sopranos” and “Sex in the City” (which hilariously describes Mr. Big as “a man practically woven out of red flags”—I’m totally stealing that), there’s so much to enjoy here. All the reviews are not raves—there’s a particularly cutting review of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” which contains the words “tooth-rottingly twee” and a great piece on “Lost” which had me vigorously nodding my head and yelling out “YES!” throughout—but Nussbaum’s writing is consistently cogent, witty and bracing. I particularly liked her longer profiles on the showrunners of “black-ish” and “Orange is the New Black,” as well as on Ryan Murphy (a black man, a woman and a gay man, incidentally—Nussbaum consistently champions diversity in what had been the white male world of television). As fun as these previously published pieces are, however, the centerpiece of this collection is a new essay “Confessions of the Human Shield,” which considers the #MeToo era question, “What should we do with the art of terrible men?” and is one of the best pieces I’ve ever read on the subject. I Like to Watch is worth buying and reading for that essay alone—but there’s so much more to enjoy.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for providing me with an ARC of this title in exchange for my honest review.
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This book is a collection of twenty or so years of television criticism writing from Emily Nussbaum. This book was a major page-turner for me. I thought I would be taking my time going through each essay individually, but no. Nussbaum's writing and is great that the fact that she's writing about shows I enjoy watching just makes it a billion times greater. Each essay covers a show and it's connection to our culture, politics and much more. Her citicism is brilliant and she even argues that television is art. I will definitely be getting a hard copy of this book and you should too!


Thank you, NetGalley and Random House Publishing for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I have followed Emily Nussbaum for years, reading her criticism in the New Yorker and her witty and on-point comments on twitter. This book was an extension of that. Fun, smart, relevant. I will recommend this to our library patrons interested in TV criticism.
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MUST read for anyone who loves to watch TV. Emily is an incredible writer: a fan first and foremost, her essays on some of the biggest shows of the 21st century are so well-written and interesting. She incorporates history and anecdotes and I could not put this book down. Also enjoyed the in-depth interviews with some of the biggest showrunners working today, including Kenya Barris, Jenji Kohan and Ryan Murphy. For sure one of the best books I've read this year. Thanks for the advanced copy!
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I loved this book. As an avid TV watcher, I've been familiar with Emily Nussbaum's work for quite a while and it was wonderful to read so many pieces collected into one place. Some of her essays made me think about what I like to watch on TV in a new, more critical way which I appreciated. I'd highly recommend this to any TV fan out there!
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Great articles that were very thought provoking. Nussbaum proves why she is an award winning critic with her carefully though out arguments and opinions. I loved her story about why she became interested in television. What I enjoyed is that she is not snobby about her tv watching and provides great arguments for what prestige television is. Very interesting read for any interested in television or great criticism.
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A great book of television criticism, analysis and profiles. I have read many of these pieces in the original sites and magazines where they were published and it was interesting to revisit them. The articles vary in length but all show that a great deal of thought has been put behind them whether it is reevaluating the impact of Sex and the City through the lens of what gets codified as "important" work or looking at creator reactions to fan criticism in her essay on the finale of Lost (though I thoroughly disagree with her take on that shows ending). Her profiles are well researched and insightful on not just what the showrunners tell her about themselves but the observed psyche underneath. 

Overall a great addition to any collection for a person who values television and believes it is a medium for more than just storytelling.
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This is a fantastic collection of essays from Emily Nussbaum. Analyzing and articulating much of what's occurring in television over the past 20 or so years with amazing clarity and an understanding of society, it's easy to see why Nussbaum has won a Pulitzer for her work as a critic. Her analysis is fantastic and leaves you plenty to think about.  Most of the pieces in this book have been previously published, but that doesn't take away from a need for this collection to exist. As someone new to Nussbaum's work, this book is such a treasure.
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Emily Nussbaum’s  witty new book, "I Like to Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution," is great fun even if you don’t watch much TV. Nussbaum, the Pulitzer Prize-winning TV critic for "The New Yorker," turns her analysis of TV into a quirky, irreverent romp through pop culture. 

I always read The New Yorker back to front, so TV criticism comes well before the long, serious articles and profiles for which the magazine is famous.  Nussbaum has introduced me to many TV shows over the years. I do not always agree with her opinion, of course. “How could she not like 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel?'" 'I wondered.  She even hated "Gilmore Girls. " Shocking. Does this make me think less of her essays?  No.

Nussbaum always enjoyed TV but never intended to write about it.  In 1997 she was a doctoral student in English at New York University, poring every day over a new 900-page Victorian novel.  One night she saw her first episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and it made her want to be a TV critic. I do remember Buffy was the subject of academic and theological seminars. And Nussbaum found depths in this paranormal teen action show.

Perhaps the most compelling essay in this collection is “The Great Divide: Norman Lear, Archie Bunker, and the Rise of the Bad Fan.” Norman Lear, the creator of the hit comedy, "All in the Family,"  was one of TV’s icons in the ’70s. Nussbaum points out that "All in the Family" was “designed to explode the medium’s taboos, using an incendiary device named Archie Bunker.” But apparently some liberals believed the show promoted racism, because the majority of fans identified with the character Archie Bunker, a right-wing, working-class  bigot. Nussbaum points out there are always bad fans, among them fans who watched Breaking Bad for the violence.  It would never have occurred to me as a fan of "All in the Family" that anyone could have identified with the verbally abusive Archie Bunker.

Nussbaum regards "Sex and the City" as one of the most important HBO shows, right up there with ""The Sopranos."  She thinks the show is underrated because it’s about women. I, too, was a fan of Carrie Bradshaw and her friends, though you would think the high heels and $1,000-handbags would have put me off.  It was one of the most charming, intelligent shows of the early 21st century.

Her  essay on the #MeToo movement reflects her ambivalence and anxiety about her complex relationship to the brilliant comedy of Woody Allen and Louis C. K..  Apparently Louis C. K. has been a huge influence on women’s comedy, but since I neither know his work nor that of the female comedians he influenced, this was lost on me.

I once would have thought TV criticism frivolous, but the medium does seem to have caught up with, or perhaps even surpassed, most movies. It’s a fascinating book: I’m saving some of the essays until I’ve seen the TV shows she’s criticized.
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I'm a big fan of Nussbaum's writing, so it stands to reason that I'd enjoy her book. There are two (very longform, very insightful) new essays, but most of the book is comprised of previously published essays. I don't know if this is something that will draw new readers in; on the other hand, if you're an enthusiast who's read a lot of Nussbaum, you'll likely be disappointed. 
At any rate, I liked it a lot. It also convinced me to start watching The Good Wife.
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I must admit the first thing that attracted me is the clever title! Emily Nussbaum's writings are so much more than a clever title however. Her essays are thoughtful, witty, precise and conversational. I had not read her writings, however I am happy to have "discovered" this Pulitzer Prize winning writer. I may not always agree with her points, but I can not fail to see her logic and respect her conclusions. I believe that I most appreciated her essay written about viewing TV in the MetToo millennium. I will be talking about her self discoveries and it will be a discussion and debate topic for quite awhile for me. I think that essay alone could be the basis of a book discussion selection!
I appreciate Ms Mussbaum's conversational style, her attention to detail, and her knowledge that is beyond compare. i just might have to subscribe to the New Yorker!
I received my copy through NetGalley under no obligation.
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I thoroughly enjoyed reading through the text, and will be publishing a review on thebrazenbull.com soon. Feel free to contact me at editor@thebrazenbull.com.
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I’ve never been a huge TV watcher, but I definitely have always a roster of shows that I’ve dedicated myself to at any given time. I’m also in the NO SPOILERS EVER camp, so I tend to avoid television and movie reviews and stay off social media if a popular show — say, Game of Thrones and its wretched final season — airs before I can watch.

That said, I’ve been a fan of Emily Nussbaum’s Pulitzer Prize-winning culture critiques for as long as I can remember. I loved reading her Approval Matrix in New York magazine, back when I read it religiously in college. And even though I’ve become more of a lurker than an active tweeter, her Twitter feed remains one of my favorites. I was thrilled to learn that this book, a collection of both new and previously published essays, was coming out.

In her opening, Nussbaum writes about how she fell in love with television — Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to be exact — back before the concept of “prestige TV,” when people could still sniff their nose at television and get away with calling it lowbrow, inferior entertainment. It was before The Sopranos and Breaking Bad, before the concept of showrunners. Nussbaum took it all seriously, interacting with it intellectually, miffed that shows like Buffy and Sex and the City — women’s TV — never got their due credit as Important Television Shows™ began earning critical acclaim.

The essays cover an array of shows and also feature a few showrunner profiles. I read them all, including the ones on shows I haven’t watch and eventually intend to (because hey, even I realize that NO SPOILERS EVER isn’t really feasible for pop culture game changers like The Sopranos, which ended 12 years ago). I enjoyed the essays, even the ones on shows I wasn’t familiar with, because like I said: Nussbaum elevates the conversation; the essays are never only about the TV show in question.

My favorite essay, “Confessions of the Human Shield,” was one of the handful of new pieces she wrote for the book. Coming in at about 50 pages, it’s also the longest in the collection. It interrogates our pop culture consumption in the wake of #MeToo and Harvey Weinstein, and Nussbaum makes it personal by examining her own history of Woody Allen and Louis C.K. fandom (in the case of Louis, reluctant complicity in the form of a live New Yorker interview she conducted after his actions had been made public):

"So if you’re wondering who colluded with at least one man who did bad things: That would be me. I was five when I first became a fan of Woody Allen. I was in my mid-forties when I became a fan of Louis C.K., inflamed by my desire to see things in an ambiguous light, to dwell in gray areas, to jump past “we can’t” to “can we?”"

The whole essay is pretty gutting, bringing up a lot of my own issues in the wake of Junot Diaz and Sherman Alexie, in my enjoyment of Jonathan Franzen’s works (yes, really). Weaving in a Pearl Cleage essay about Miles Davis’ abuse of Cicely Tyson and Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette, “Confessions of the Human Shield” masterfully takes a long hard look at our complicity where pop culture and abusers are concerned.

It’s essays like this, which bring together several different aspects of pop culture, that truly shine in the book. The essays that focus on a single television show — even shows that have long been over — have aged well, even if the shows themselves have not (Sex and the City, I’m looking at you). Not all of the essays are emotionally heavy, but they’re all incisive and elevate the conversation.
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I Like to Watch gathers some of Nussbaum's best writing for the New Yorker and New York magazine. Better yet, it focuses that body of writing to build a philosophy of what television is for and why it's worth watching.
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