Alan Sepinwall

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For 846 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 50% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 47% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 2 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Alan Sepinwall's Scores

Average review score: 64
Highest review score: 100 Hannibal: Season 3
Lowest review score: 0 Work It : Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 86 out of 846
846 tv reviews
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    This isn't the best four-episode stretch the series has ever had--as with most cable dramas, the ends of GoT seasons tend to be stronger than the starts--but there's a sense of real forward momentum to the proceedings that hasn't always been there in the past. Again and again, my pulse quickened as I watched these four hours.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    The treatment is serious, thoughtful, and an introductory triumph for this American Crime Story franchise.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    As with the best of these broad canvas series, the players and their allegiances become clear within an episode or two. And from that point on, Boardwalk Empire becomes everything that HBO (and I) had hoped for it.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    Through seven of its eight hours (HBO didn't give critics the finale in advance), it's vital and gripping. It's not an imitator dressing itself up in the trappings of a classic HBO drama, but the real deal.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    It's one of the most purely funny shows on television--where many "comedies" are really dramas in half-hour form, and others are likable but rarely laugh-out-loud funny--and it's only more confident, sharp and very much its own thing in the new season.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    Orange remains as sharp and funny and poignant as ever.... It's one of TV's very best shows, no matter how you slice it.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    The second season may be even better than the first.... Here's an anthology miniseries follow-up that recaptures all that worked well in the original, even as it's forging its own identity.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    It's the show it was last year, but in many ways better.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    It definitely has a voice, and it's a great one: witty and wise and warm and not exactly like anything you've heard before.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    It continues to be one of the most satisfying dramas in the history of the medium.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    It is still one of the very best shows on television. ... The first [episode] is more of a table-setter than some past Americans premieres have been, but the next two are outstanding, filled with the usual agonizing mix of spy thrills and family drama, and superb performances by Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Noah Emmerich, and the rest of the gang.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    The two central performances are so powerful, the dialogue so evocative, the look so intense, that they speak to the value of the hybrid anthology format Pizzolatto is using here--which, along with FX’s “American Horror Story,” points to a potentially fascinating shift in dramatic series television.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    If you enjoy seeing wealthy, petty people get their deserved comeuppance, this is the show for you. If you enjoy laughing, this is definitely the show for you - the funniest new comedy of the season by a wide margin...For a show about dumb, unfocused people, Arrested Development is wickedly smart and quick, willing to go anywhere for a good gag. [31 Oct 2003, p.49]
    • Newark Star-Ledger
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    The premiere suggests that the only other show that belongs with it in the discussion for the best drama on television is the same one we were talking about last season. At the top level, there is "Breaking Bad," and there is also--finally, thankfully, exceptionally--Mad Men, and then there is everything else.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    Louie viewers don't know exactly what they're getting in any given week, but the show is so elastic that nothing it tries feels like something it shouldn't.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    "Hannibal" is one of the very best shows on television. But it's also so extreme in depicting violence and its aftermath — even in this heightened fashion, and often with a dry, absurdist sense of humor about it — that it's not one I would insist every serious TV fan must watch.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    They know how great the show looks, they know how much their actors can give them, and they know just how much they can get away with.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    The sheer amount of cussing is so great that even the unoffended may be too distracted by it to pay attention to anything else in Deadwood. That would be unfortunate, because lurking just behind the wall of profanity is a magnificent, fire-breathing work of art - an amazing meditation on violence, social order and the cruel reality of the Wild West. [21 Mar 2004, p.1]
    • Newark Star-Ledger
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    Masters of Sex has much more on its mind than simply the tumultuous relationship between its two famous central characters. But if it just had those two, it would still be among the best things you could watch on television this summer.
    • 98 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    The new episodes don’t represent another radical leap forward in style or quality the way season two was, but whatever’s lost from the shock of the new (nothing here is quite as weird or surprising as the cavewoman prologue or “International Assassin,” though a joke in the second episode and a party sequence in the fifth come close) is gained in how much more we know all the characters at this point, and how aware they are of their proximity to their story’s end.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    This is an amazing show, beautifully acted and simply beautiful to look at (early episodes this season were directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal, Lawrence Trilling, and Billy Gierhart), with a keen appreciation for faith and family and community that eludes even some of TV's more celebrated dramas.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    BoJack Horseman is somehow one of TV's funniest comedies and most affecting dramas all in one weird, addictive little package.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    What Simon is doing with "The Wire" - besides crafting arguably the most realistic cop show ever - is taking the narrative style of books and translating it to television. ... By itself, it raises TV's collective IQ at least a few points. [29 May 2003]
    • Newark Star-Ledger
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    This is a great show, which you might expect given the number of "Parks" veterans involved (including Mike Schur in a godfather capacity as one of the executive producers), but which still feels surprising given the show's clever structure and eagerness to embrace other perspectives.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    It’s a stunning performance by Moss. ... The more we get to know Ofglen, the harder Bledel’s performance hits, until a pair of scenes late in the third episode will leave you a puddle on the floor from what she does in them. The cast is excellent overall, particularly Dowd and Strahovski. ... Riveting new drama.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    It's the best new TV show debuting anywhere this fall, by a long stretch.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    Season six... starts off strong and only gets stronger - profane, offensive, cringe-inducing and hilarious. [5 Sep 2007]
    • Newark Star-Ledger
    • 80 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    Each episode hits harder as a result [of the story told from the POV of only a specific subset of characters] while the narrative has gotten tighter. It's still a show defined more by emotion than plot, but structuring it this way--and moving most of the action to Jarden, which has many mysteries of its own--creates a sense of more momentum, rather than a bunch of characters wandering around in a daze.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    As the follow-up to an incredibly strong debut season, it's even more fun.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    It is entirely its own thing, and it is one of the very best shows on television. We're lucky to have it back.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    A relentless, ambitious perpetual motion machine that may go down as the most exciting thriller in TV history. [27 Oct 2002]
    • Newark Star-Ledger
    • 98 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    A scream, in the biting Britcom tradition of "Fawlty Towers" and the best depiction of middle management hell since Mike Judge's cult classic "Office Space." [23 Jan 2003]
    • Newark Star-Ledger
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    Nothing short of a TV miracle: a family show that's sweet, but not too syrupy, bitingly funny, but not mean-spirited and fun for viewers of all ages, without appealing to the blandest common denominator. [5 Oct 2000, p.37]
    • Newark Star-Ledger
    • 93 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    The six-episode first season of "The Office" was so dark, so wicked, so brilliant that it was hard to imagine Gervais and Merchant topping themselves. But they have. By slowly chipping away at David's power base, they've made him even more desperate, petulant and bullying. (The less funny David gets, the funnier the show is.) [10 Oct 2003]
    • Newark Star-Ledger
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    You have to work to watch this show. Characters and plotlines whiz by in a blur, and if you blink, you may miss an entire subplot. But the payoff is more than worth the effort: With its deep characterizations, dark humor, unpredictable plots and brilliant musical score, "EZ Streets" is fascinating television, unlike almost anything else now on the air. [27 Oct 1996]
    • Newark Star-Ledger
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    This doesn't feel like a factory product, but a work of individual, beautiful craftsmanship.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    ESPN's newest 30 for 30 film O.J. Simpson: Made in America proves to not only be better than The People v. O.J.--and among the best things ESPN has aired in its history--but a perfect complement to the FX show.-
    • 65 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    Many will hate it. But there will be viewers in whom it strikes a chord so deeply that they will feel themselves overwhelmed by it in the best possible way: not like they're drowning in the misery, but like it's teaching them a new way to breathe.
    • 99 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    Even with Walt's apparent victory over all who would seek to deny him, his genius and his strength, Breaking Bad is still a perfect model of filmed suspense.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    Season 2 finds ways to introduce even greater tension, even as [Philip and Elizabeth are] a more fundamentally sound unit, while also adding a whodunnit element that spices things up nicely.... Absolutely dynamite.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    What makes these episodes feel extra-special is the sense of purpose to them. There's a big story being told here--not one that requires you to watch every episode (though your funny bone will thank you if you do), but one that seems to raise the stakes for everyone involved, and which makes the jokes funnier, the characters richer, in the process.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    Normal is overrated. Give me whimsy, dreams and Evil Troy and Evil Abed any day. Give me extraordinary. Give me Community.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    It’s a delight, existing so far outside the mold of recent superhero adaptations in the 2010s that it couldn’t see the mold even with telescopic vision. It’s a comic book show likely to be as appealing to people who have no interest in comic books as to those who can name David’s famous relative without Googling, if not more, and it’s easily the most exciting new series this young year in TV has offered so far.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    Apatow despises formula. If he didn't, "Freaks and Geeks" might still be on the air, and while Undeclared isn't nearly as pessimistic or painful, it's just as observant - and, at times, even funnier...All I know is that re-watching the first few "Undeclared" episodes in preparation for this review gave me my first good, hearty laughs since Sept. 11. By taking the "Freaks and Geeks" formula and making it shorter, sweeter and mostly wince-free, Apatow has created a great new comedy that could become a major hit, even if Steven himself never gets around to picking a major. [25 Sept 2001, p.23]
    • Newark Star-Ledger
    • 99 Metascore
    • 100 Alan Sepinwall
    Young's performance continues to be extraordinary, with a monologue late in the premiere all but guaranteed to raise the dust level in your home as you watch it. But it's a measure of the work McKinnon and the supporting actors have done in demonstrating how the smaller conflicts in the lives of Amantha or Ted Jr. or Tawney can be just as powerful (to them and to us) as Daniel's larger existential crisis.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    Terrific sketch comedy: absurd, inventive, surprising, and just damn funny.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    The last thing television needs is more serial killer dramas. But when they're this well made, this smart and creative and unexpectedly funny? Then, yes, more Hannibal, please.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    Community is back, and back to being itself.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    Those who stayed patient with Halt season 1, or those who come to the show now that the quality has gone up significantly, will be rewarded.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    As with the first season, the stories keep tiptoeing up to cliché before shuffling into more interesting and complicated emotional territory.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    It would be easy for all this reinvention to feel jarring, or like Halt desperately racing from one idea to the next because the last one ran out of steam. But each transition has felt natural, earned, and of a piece with what came before.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    Last summer, the show's quality was a surprise because of what it was about and where it aired. Now, UnREAL isn't surprising. It's just thrilling.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    Fey and Carlock have delivered basically the same show they did a year ago. Given how great that original NBC version was, I can't really complain. If your biscotti recipe is already deliciously weird, why change the ingredients?
    • 85 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    Almost every scene demands that the viewer asks why it was presented in that particular fashion--not in a way that distracts from the narrative, but only helps convey the themes of the piece. And as the series jumps ahead to 1901, it's becoming more ambitious in those themes and its articulation of them.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    Masters of Sex is the best new show of the fall by a very long stretch. It's also a refreshing anomaly: a prestige cable drama that doesn't feel like a recombination of elements from 15 shows that came before it.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    The good news is that nearly everything that went wrong last season goes right at the start of this one. ... "Justified" is again fun and scary and thrilling.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has only gotten better, more confident, and more consistent as it's moved along. It knows exactly who its heroine is, what she's good at and what makes her terrifying, just as well as it has very quickly and appealingly figured out how to turn any potential weaknesses into additional strengths.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    It's essentially a six-hour lecture on zoning regulations, municipal codes, and why integration remained such a thorny issue long after the civil rights era of the '60s. But if it's a lecture, it's an engaging, emotional, and surprisingly light on its feet one.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    I came into the series expecting a raunchy black comedy, and got that, but with the added bonus of something achingly beautiful when it wanted to be.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    The sheer number of colorful characters maneuvering keeps things lively.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    Broadchurch is a police procedural, and an effective one, but what renders it special is the way it tracks the ways that physical and emotional violence haunts everyone in the town.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    It's an experiment, and one with some rough edges. But Alda, Falco, and Buscemi are powerhouse dramatic actors, and C.K. makes a good reactive foil to them. The first episode (which runs slightly over an hour) feels like such a self-contained story that I have no idea what later installments will be about, or feel like, but I can't wait to see them, whenever they happen to appear.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    The first episode, at least, is terrific, with a distinct, involving tone, and it does very right by its leads.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    Casual still stands out among this group [of lo-fi dramas] because the writing and performances are so specific and so smart that it doesn't feel like a spin-off of six other shows.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    It's clear and engaging and moving to this novice.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    Because the bond between them is so strong, all the show's disparate pieces - the filthy comedy and the desperation, the joy and the depression - hold together just as well.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    Along the course of these six episodes, the show touches on various rom-com tropes about disapproving parents (Carrie Fisher is, as always, a treat as Rob's cynical mother), secret meetings with exes, bachelor and bachelorette parties that spin out of control, etc. But they're all dealt with in such a specific and simple way that they feel unique to these characters and their world, rather than the obligatory stumbles on the path to a happy ending.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    For some, the six hours of Rectify will feel like a very slow sentence indeed. For others, the performances, the very clear sense of time and place, the beautiful images and the thoughtful things the series has to say about life, death and spirituality will feel like no time at all.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    The show has a keen, charming grasp of the way parent-child relationships can sometimes fluctuate between screaming and hugging with no transition in between, and some of the most effective Better Things moments are brief cutaways to quiet times amidst the fighting, or vice versa.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    As with Notaro's deadpan affect, the show seems to be holding itself in reserve and refusing to engage, yet the impact--on both the serious and silly sides--ultimately lands just as sharply as one of the punchlines from Notaro's act. It's all easygoing until it's anything but.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    It's a smart, beautifully mounted, and at times very moving production.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    The season's first two episodes confirm everything that was obvious by the end of last year: Jimmy's doomed attempt to play things straight and not go back to his con man Slippin' Jimmy ways is much too fertile an area to be abandoned so quickly. It feels like a creative choice rather than a commercial one (as opposed to all those times Dexter Morgan managed to evade the brilliant investigators at Miami Metro because his ratings were too high), and the choice plays out in fascinating ways early in Saul season 2.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    It's still Homeland, and it's good.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    This is a very smart show about incredibly smart people, and it's only gotten better as it's gone along.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    The deeper you go, the more powerful The Returned gets.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    Again and again, the show toggles between shock humor and sentiment like the two are the most natural fit in the world. Tonally, the show's a miracle, on top of just being balls-out funny.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    This is easily the best of Marvel's three shows so far, and quickly moves towards the front of the overall superhero TV pack.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    [By the third episode] Review revealed itself to be something much more complicated, dark, and brilliant, in which the weight of all these viewer requests begins to take a horrific toll on Forrest's life.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    It's a show that stands entirely on its own while never forgetting the series that inspired it.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    Two episodes (one of which many of you may have seen) isn't a big sample size to judge whether Mr. Robot will avoid the sophomore slump. But they're a very promising start, and a continuation of all that made the series so fascinating a year ago.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    Over the 10 episodes of the new season, Tremé remains outstanding at what it sets out to do.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    Happy Valley is so effective at what it sets out to do, and so neat in fitting all its pieces together (up to the way the story's climax evokes a much milder incident from early in the series), that I'm a bit ambivalent about the fact that a second season has already been ordered. Lancashire is so good that I won't necessarily mind getting to watch more of her in this role, but this particular story is so unique to her in a way that no sequel season can be.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    Over the course of the first four episodes (and hopefully over the remaining six), the TV Fargo establishes itself as its own wonderful thing that is connected to the movie without being a recreation of it, and that doesn't seem unworthy of the name.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    If Atlanta is a surprise, it's frequently an excellent one.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    By forcing Raylan to retrace his father's decades-old steps, Yost is reinventing his show yet again, but he's also going deeper into the heart and mind of the man with the big hat and gun.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    Even if you are familiar with the contours of the controversy over Scientology, Gibney's documentary, which won raves at Sundance in January and airs Sunday at 8 p.m. on HBO, is worth watching, particularly for the personal stories of former members.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    There is nothing else on television quite like it, and for those who have the patience to sit through Daniel's still, slow journey, the emotional rewards are enormous.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    While there are many extraordinary moments in the new season, there's still enough inconsistency that I'm still waiting for it to become the classic drama it so clearly has the tools to be.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    Based on the admittedly small sample size of two episodes, The Americans feels like it could very comfortably slot in with the upper tier of FX dramas. That's about as good as it gets.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    Fuller and company do an impressive job of balancing Lecter's machinations, Graham's emotional problems, and the other killers that Graham and Crawford have to stop, in a way that never descends into formula.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    As a drama, Banshee is preposterous. It is ludicrous. It regularly defies laws of both plausibility and physics, and there's usually at least one moment per episode where I have to pause the action because I can't stop laughing at how ridiculous it all is.... And that is why I've come to love it.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    Silly or sober, Louie is one of the best shows on television.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    It's a perfect marriage of creative team, channel and subject.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    Jessica Jones is unlike anything Marvel or DC has tried in the live-action realm, and it's excellent.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    The stories are told with such intimacy, such empathy, and such attention to detail, that it transcends labels and generalities. It's the story of these specific people, exceptionally small, but also exceptionally told.... This was a terrific show last year, it's even better this year.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    The season as a whole is terrific, and comes very satisfyingly full circle with all of its stories, but you might want to give the first two episodes a try tomorrow and then loop back later to watch the rest in a smaller window.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    This is an absolute: Top of the Lake is great.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    Homeland functions terrifically as both a thriller and a commentary on our post-post-9/11 world, where the War on Terror and the concept of being constantly under surveillance are both facts of life.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    It's a treat to be back in this world again, and perhaps by the end of this season I'll feel happier about the crime arc than I did about the spy stuff.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 91 Alan Sepinwall
    I'm reluctant to praise Togetherness too much, because the smallness of the story and the performances doesn't really work well with overhype.... But it's a really well-executed version of what it is.

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