Emily Nussbaum
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For 82 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 40% higher than the average critic
  • 7% same as the average critic
  • 53% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 4.5 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Emily Nussbaum's Scores

Average review score: 70
Highest review score: 100 Breaking Bad: Season 5
Lowest review score: 30 Whitney: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 60 out of 82
  2. Negative: 7 out of 82
82 tv reviews
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Emily Nussbaum
    From the moment I saw the pilot of Girls, I was a goner, a convert.
    • 99 Metascore
    • 100 Emily Nussbaum
    Breaking Bad [is] a radical type of television, and also a very strange kind of must-watch: a show that you dread and crave at the same time.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Emily Nussbaum
    Behind the Candelabra succeeds precisely because it doesn’t care much about health or what constitutes a good role model--it shows respect for a complicated marriage simply by making it real.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 90 Emily Nussbaum
    By the finale, Season 2 is stronger than Season 1, largely because it’s more uncompromising about its characters, at once more nuanced and more damning.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 90 Emily Nussbaum
    It’s a daring, difficult project, a chewy story about a family from much the same privileged world as “Afternoon Delight.”
    • 94 Metascore
    • 90 Emily Nussbaum
    The new episodes start well, then keep improving, with narrative clarity and a fresh visual beauty.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 90 Emily Nussbaum
    The show’s deliberately paced six hours turn out to be riveting, precisely because they are committed, without apology or, often, much explanation, to the esotericism of their subject matter.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 90 Emily Nussbaum
    Smash does a very satisfying job of merging the pleasures of "American Idol" and commercial Broadway, placing the "hummable melody" dead center and prioritizing fun over absolute authenticity.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 90 Emily Nussbaum
    Freed of the constraints of thirty-minute or one-hour formulas, the episodes are luxurious and twisty and humane, radiating new ideas about storytelling.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 90 Emily Nussbaum
    Freed of the constraints of thirty-minute or one-hour formulas, the episodes are luxurious and twisty and humane, radiating new ideas about storytelling.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Emily Nussbaum
    Episodes is great--the sharpest sitcom debut this year. Among other excellent qualities, it's actively funny, with none of the dramedy lumpiness that spoils other half-hour offerings (bad camp, faux-energy badinage, heavy-handed sentimentality).
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 Emily Nussbaum
    [Andrew Haigh & Michael Lannan] collaboration is a real beauty, the standout among several smart series launching in January.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 90 Emily Nussbaum
    [A] soaring, inventive miniseries.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 90 Emily Nussbaum
    Broadchurch is beautifully crafted: well filmed, well cast, well scored, atmospheric without being a drag. It also has a striking mixture of cruel insight and sentimental warmth that elevates it above cheaper concoctions.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    Curb Your Enthusiasm takes its own internal dare and does somehow manage to make us care about this world-class sufferer of impacted pettiness, with his endless bickering about the thermostat, the etiquette of blow jobs in cars, the horrors of vacuum-packed plastic.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    This is unusual fare for HBO, sunny and serene and easy to dismiss. But I think it will find an enthusiastic audience for its benign vision of the detective as feminine healer, grounded in the show’s lovely lead performance by singer Jill Scott as Precious.
    • 93 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    It’s not that the season was bad--it was daring and often beautiful, emphasizing serial storytelling over episodic one-offs, with many indelible moments, especially those involving Louie’s daughters.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    The show may be ridiculous, but the humiliation and panic feel real. And there's something to be said for surprise.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    It’s really located at that dirty crossroads HBO discovered long ago, smart enough to be uninsulting, but obsessed enough (and graphic enough about) sex and wildness that it is addictively watchable, not so much a guilty pleasure as a binge food. Cable catnip, in other words.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    He may be sicker than Hank Moody or Larry David, but he’s also a far richer figure, and in his own strange way, just as universal, thanks to the transcendent performance of Michael C. Hall, who deepens every sick joke and raises the stakes on every emotional twist.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    The show is more than tit for tat: it’s sheer pleasure, no guilt allowed.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    At six episodes, Happy Valley is satisfyingly compressed.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    The dialogue isn’t always subtle, but it’s often sharp.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    Episodes has a sly subversiveness that deepens over time, like mercury poisoning: it's an adult farce that is at once frothy and acerbic.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    The Jinx is wickedly entertaining: funny, morbid, and sad, at once exploitative and high-minded, a moral lasagna of questionable aesthetic choices (including reconstructions of ghastly events) and riveting interviews (of Durst, but also of other eccentrics, like his chain-smoking-hot second wife).
    • 60 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    The result is a warmer story, streaked with satire rather than marinated in it. Perhaps the greatest contribution comes from the performance of someone who barely appears: Rory Kinnear (best known as the Prime Minister in the pig episode of “Black Mirror”), whose Barry is a poignant, meaningful figure, a do-gooder whose loss is real for the town’s most vulnerable residents.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    The Comeback is as spiny and audacious as the original, but very different, because it isn’t aimed at “celebreality” or network sitcoms, now dated targets.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    The show is at its best in such moments, these sequences that capture the semi-virtual, semi-real ways that we think, and feel, and meet, and connect today. It’s a rare attempt to make visible something that we take for granted: a new kind of cognition, inflected by passion, that allows strangers to think out loud, solving mysteries together.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    Smart, salty, and outrageous, the series falls squarely in the tradition of graphic adult cable drama.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    In a lacklustre fall season, this sweet surprise of a pilot, with its shrewd narration and likable cast, made me cross my fingers that the show can maintain its charms.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    Best of all, we seem to be done with the weakest element of the series, those abusive-hillbilly flashbacks. Instead, we've been left with a Madonna-whore set of blondes: all-embracing Anna and her icy counterpart, Betty of the Little White Nose in the Air.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    The series has transformed from hokey formula into one of the goofiest, most reliably enjoyable comedies around.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    With British accents and a refreshing dash of homoeroticism, it works nicely for a midsummer binge.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    This season is so much more effective that it’s practically a master class in how tweaks can transform a series--and in how hard it is to judge a sitcom early on.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    Sondheim’s frequent collaborator James Lapine directs, and he does an excellent job of stitching together interviews from more than four decades, including ones with Mike Douglas and Diane Sawyer, to form a portrait of the composer as both a young and an old man.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    Eastbound & Down holds together so well that it's worth looking past the ugly for the solid performances and the charcoal-black humor beneath, particularly in the final episodes, which delve into Powers's family history.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    The Americans can be wrenchingly emotional, and it’s terrifically well paced. But it doesn’t take itself overly seriously, and while the show looks pretty good it’s not the most cinematic series on the block.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    Awake may be hard to categorize, but it's worth our attention.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    It seemed doubtful that the show’s creators could keep those plates spinning for another round, but the third season introduces a fantastic new contrivance: a psychotic new network head, played by Chris Diamantopoulos.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    The show is well structured, with blunt but effective sitcom beats, and, refreshingly, it isn’t an “Entourage”-tinted fantasy.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    By refueling with the Madoffs, the show’s writers have brought a titillating jolt to the show’s by-now-established riffling of silvery, half-concealed trauma flashbacks. Even if, in the end, it’s nothing more than highly lacquered candy, it’s tasty stuff.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    Lights Out starts slower but has an even more intriguing anti-hero dad: Patrick "Lights" Leary (in a beautiful and subtle performance by Holt McCallany), a retired heavyweight champion with itchy fists.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    Shameless also has a rough and original charisma of its own, emphasizing as it does the freedom and not merely the deprivation of its family of quasi orphans.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Emily Nussbaum
    It is good, or, at least, it’s effective--unapologetic melodramatic fun, to judge from the first two episodes.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Emily Nussbaum
    It’s not the best-plotted series: stories tumble by like clothes in an off-kilter dryer. But there’s charm in intimate moments, as when two worldly women share confidences, or a lovely sequence in which Rodrigo wanders around the city, sniffing the air and playing pickup chess.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 Emily Nussbaum
    The L.A. Complex is maddeningly low-rated, but it's worth seeking out: it's no masterpiece of cinematography, and can veer into melodrama, but at its sharpest moments the show has as much "Midnight Cowboy" in it as it does "Melrose Place."
    • 72 Metascore
    • 70 Emily Nussbaum
    he series doesn’t have the best pacing, or the best dialogue (“Well, if the mountain won’t come to Muhammad, we’re going to the morgue”), and in some areas it doesn’t even try: never has a show set in New York but filmed in Toronto felt more like a show set in New York but filmed in Toronto. (When Astoria appeared, full of burning garbage cans, all of Queens raised its eyebrows.) And yet the show overflows with greasy satisfactions, simply because it commits so fully to its own goofiness.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Emily Nussbaum
    The narrative flow is murky and chaotic, and at times it chokes up.... But The Leftovers builds in potency.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Emily Nussbaum
    Revenge is too juicy to write off as junk. It's got strong performances, from actors who don't condescend to their flamboyant dialogue.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Emily Nussbaum
    At times, there's a dangerous undercurrent of anti-sentimentality, a risk of sentimentalizing curmudgeonliness itself. But for all these flaws, I still found the series excitingly ambitious--funny, sexy, strange.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Emily Nussbaum
    I did love Mildred Pierce, mostly, for much of its nearly six hours.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 70 Emily Nussbaum
    The two investigate love stories, not homicides, a clever conceit that injects the procedural form with the dizzy spirit of a Drew Barrymore film festival.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 Emily Nussbaum
    Much of the show’s appeal lies in the cast’s shaggy, naturalistic chemistry, which papers over the occasional imperfect plot turn.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Emily Nussbaum
    A slapdash, invigorating, flawed-but-delectable mini-series with a premise of brass balls.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 70 Emily Nussbaum
    The British series, about the aristocratic Crawley family and their titular home, goes down so easily that it's a bit like scarfing handfuls of caramel corn while swigging champagne.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 70 Emily Nussbaum
    Like many newbie sitcoms, Kimmy Schmidt stumbles, at times, to find its tone--and, with thirteen episodes launched at once, it doesn’t have the freedom to rejigger itself.... When it comes to jokes about trauma, however, the show takes more risks.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Emily Nussbaum
    Everygirl Amber Tamblyn is miscast as a cop with a fancy Upper East Side pedigree, but the rest of the ensemble is great, including Harold Perrineau as a paranoid cop and Adam Goldberg as his self-destructive partner. Quirky feels like a curse word, tainted forever by the legacy of David E. Kelley (Ally McBeal, etc.), but The Unusuals might actually turn the word back into praise.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 Emily Nussbaum
    Somehow it still manages to find strangeness within its sentimentality. Fresh Off the Boat is unlikely to dismantle the master’s house. But it opens a door.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Emily Nussbaum
    I found the first two episodes handsome but sleazy, like a C.E.O. in a hotel bar. Yet by Episode 5 I was hypnotized by the show’s ensemble of two-faced sociopaths. Episode 8 was a thoughtful side trip into sympathy for Spacey’s devilish main character, but by then I was exhausted, and only my compulsive streak kept me going until the finale--at which point I was critically destabilized and looking forward to Season 2.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 70 Emily Nussbaum
    Individual scenes are terrific, but a few plotlines strain credulity. If it weren’t for Tatiana Maslany, the show’s star, Orphan Black would be just a likable-enough thriller, with Toronto local color--enough to recommend it to a Canadaphilic sci-fi buff like me, but maybe not to you.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 60 Emily Nussbaum
    Season 3--the full season was sent to reviewers--has indelible sequences, but it's a mixed bag.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Emily Nussbaum
    It's possible The Big C will get better, even if (maybe especially if) Cathy never does. And if it takes two seasons to become a great sitcom about dying? That might be worth the wait.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 60 Emily Nussbaum
    The series is primarily goofy formulaic fun, and so far, Katic is no Deschanel, but like its twin, the series uses that shockingly durable Remington Steele DNA--peacock dude, furrowed-brow femme--to build neat puzzles out of human suffering.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 50 Emily Nussbaum
    There's so much potential here it kills me--a deep female friendship, raw humor about class, and a show that puts young women's sexuality dead center, rather than using it as visual spice, as in some cable series about bad-boy antiheroes.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Emily Nussbaum
    If there's a TV writers' version of Stockholm syndrome, Dexter is Exhibit A.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 50 Emily Nussbaum
    The Walking Dead might have been one of [the ambitious modern horror series], using a grotesque story to go deep, letting grief and repulsion rile and unsettle us. Instead, it stumbles forward, disguised as prestige TV but devoid of a soul.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 50 Emily Nussbaum
    It’s not impossible that the show might become, as it seems intended to be, a sitcom take on Susan Faludi’s Stiffed, a perverse fable about the way a man emasculated by the economy learns to strut. But to do that, it would have to have a grander, more empathic vision of the world around Ray. Right now, it just doesn’t go deep enough.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 50 Emily Nussbaum
    The original documentary may have been predatory, but it captured something powerful, the face of failed optimism, the many meanings of the word “spoiled.” Sometimes it’s better to let strange be strange.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 50 Emily Nussbaum
    Rather than innovate, the series, on Cinemax, leans hard on cable drama’s hoariest (and whoriest) antiheroic formulas, diluting potentially powerful themes.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 50 Emily Nussbaum
    If there are rare moments in Boardwalk Empire that do pay off (the story of Jimmy's mother has some sick kick this season), it's hard to feel the stakes, beyond the catharsis of the show's bi-weekly throat slashings.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 40 Emily Nussbaum
    The show mines a primal adolescent fantasy: that sickness might be a form of glamour, making a person special and deeper than other humans. Everyone thinks that when you go to the hospital life stops,” Coma Boy intones. “But it’s just the opposite: life starts.” Whether you find this conceit offensive or escapist will depend on your mood. For me, the crassness outweighed any charm.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 40 Emily Nussbaum
    Only a fool would deny Fargo’s polish and verve, its stylized razzle-dazzle. But, for me at least, after a year of gulping down chili peppers, it takes more to make a meal.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 40 Emily Nussbaum
    When it comes to story, unfortunately, Luck is a drag.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 40 Emily Nussbaum
    The series exists within its own ugly system, mining the by now tired convention of the thoughtful thug--the same idea that was so brilliantly subverted by more ambitious series, such as “The Sopranos” and “Breaking Bad.”
    • 58 Metascore
    • 40 Emily Nussbaum
    Sadly, the show is carved out of pure phony gravitas--like "The West Wing," only more sanctimonious.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 30 Emily Nussbaum
    The problem is that Whitney is a terrible show, though in ways that resonate with our culture's debates about women and humor.
    • 33 Metascore
    • 30 Emily Nussbaum
    The first episode, on the subject of privacy, isn’t bad, as infotainment goes.... but once you click on the second episode--about feminism--the walls cave in.
    • 34 Metascore
    • 30 Emily Nussbaum
    In place of Saget’s real-life comic shtick, which is genuinely outrageous and dirty, we get sour, rehashed Honeymooners, misanthropy without insight.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 30 Emily Nussbaum
    The Newsroom treats the audience as though we were extremely stupid.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 30 Emily Nussbaum
    Whatever the length of the show’s much admired tracking shot (six minutes, uncut!), it feels less hardboiled than softheaded. Which might be O.K. if True Detective were dumb fun, but, good God, it’s not: it’s got so much gravitas it could run for President.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 30 Emily Nussbaum
    [The] once-charming contrarianism has gone utterly rancid, leaving us with the unpleasant spectacle of David Duchovny straddled repeatedly by jailbait.
    • 36 Metascore
    • 30 Emily Nussbaum
    If series like In The Motherhood are designed as Trojan horses for product placement, they won’t have much impact if they’re as weakly written as this Frankensteinian mulch of mommy-war cliches and "Santa is dead" gags.

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