Emily Nussbaum

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For 110 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 40% higher than the average critic
  • 6% same as the average critic
  • 54% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 5.3 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Emily Nussbaum's Scores

Average review score: 72
Highest review score: 100 Transparent: Season 2
Lowest review score: 30 Whitney: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 86 out of 110
  2. Negative: 7 out of 110
110 tv reviews
    • 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.
    • 95 Metascore
    • 90 Emily Nussbaum
    It’s heartbreaking, provoking literal nausea, with a psychic hangover unlike any other show. Believe it or not, that’s a recommendation.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Emily Nussbaum
    A TV series that makes revolutionary art seem both irresistible and inevitable.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 90 Emily Nussbaum
    The new episodes start well, then keep improving, with narrative clarity and a fresh visual beauty.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 92 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.”
    • 91 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    Wide-ranging and genuinely funny.
    • 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.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 90 Emily Nussbaum
    The result is a series that is shrewd, emotional, and impolite, with a style that veers toward pretentiousness but never crosses over. Atlanta has quiet craftiness and the power of precision.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 90 Emily Nussbaum
    The series is not, in the first six episodes sent to critics, crude or cartoonish but ideologically and emotionally nuanced, with each episode providing a shift in perspective, as if turning a daisy wheel of empathy.
    • 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.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 90 Emily Nussbaum
    The third season of the show isn’t a masterpiece like the second: a few plot gears grind. But it lands powerfully, with an earned tragedy that’s as potent as anything on TV this year.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 90 Emily Nussbaum
    [A] soaring, inventive miniseries.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 Emily Nussbaum
    Fleabag is an original. ... By the final episode, which I won’t spoil but which touches on themes of forgiveness, her story feels richer than many dramas.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Emily Nussbaum
    From the moment I saw the pilot of Girls, I was a goner, a convert.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    The dialogue isn’t always subtle, but it’s often sharp.
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    The first four episodes of this season, though skillfully directed by Miguel Arteta, vary in effectiveness, but the third is pretty perfect, particularly Rhea Perlman’s performance as a double-amputee convict determined to escape from her hospital bed.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    Well cast, solidly structured, and emotionally stirring, the show is as sincere as the Bruce Springsteen songs that make up its score, a ballad of pragmatism with a passionate heart.
    • 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.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Emily Nussbaum
    It’s a smart wartime drama that’s gripping precisely because it takes sex so seriously, treating it as life’s deepest joy and its most terrifying risk, as dramatic as any act of violence.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    Each episode intensifies, emotionally, suggesting the long arc of a story that’s just beginning.
    • 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.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    At six episodes, Happy Valley is satisfyingly compressed.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    Three episodes in, it’s hard to say where the plot is going, other than down the rabbit hole of David’s worst thoughts. But Legion is a nightmare absorbing enough that you don’t feel the need to question the endgame.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    The first two episodes of the new season struggle slightly, now that Gretchen and Jimmy are living together--there’s a risk of tilting into hipsterism, like a sour West Coast riff on “Mad About You.” And yet your fingers are crossed for the show to make the leap.
    • 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.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    Feud has its flaws--a jokey song cue here, blunt exposition there. But Murphy lets the contradictions sizzle: he knows that schlock can double as great art; that self-loathing can work both as a goad to ambition and as an emotional crippler.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 70 Emily Nussbaum
    Mr. Robot may be self-serious, but it’s also a rarity on TV, capturing a modern mood, an ambient distrust based on genuine social betrayals. For all its flaws, it feels like an alarm going off. It’s worth paying attention to.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 70 Emily Nussbaum
    It took five episodes for me to get interested--three too many, in these days of television glut. And only after the seventh and eighth did the cruel and clever plot twists (which include graphic torture) become truly gripping. In the early episodes, the pacing was logy and the action muddy, with several subplots that itched to be trimmed or recast.
    • 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.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    There are twists and turns, but things never get confusing. Each episode ends with a small revelation that keeps Dory moving. Even minor characters get full arcs and smart backstories.
    • 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.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    With British accents and a refreshing dash of homoeroticism, it works nicely for a midsummer binge.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    Smart, salty, and outrageous, the series falls squarely in the tradition of graphic adult cable drama.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    The show could easily devolve into a mere cruel soap, its own guilty pleasure. But it makes one crucial move: it cultivates sympathy for the bachelorettes.... UnREAL allows the women to be individuals, vulnerable and distinct.
    • 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.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    The series has transformed from hokey formula into one of the goofiest, most reliably enjoyable comedies around.
    • 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.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 60 Emily Nussbaum
    Season 3--the full season was sent to reviewers--has indelible sequences, but it's a mixed bag.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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).
    • 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.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    This is astoundingly efficient storytelling, eight hours that pass in a blink, with even minor characters getting sharp dialogue, dark humor, or moments of pathos.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 40 Emily Nussbaum
    When it comes to story, unfortunately, Luck is a drag.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.”
    • 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.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    Generous to its characters, even those who begin as clichés, the series becomes a reflection on trauma; at its best moments, it makes risky observations, especially about the dynamics of domestic abuse. Even when it doesn’t dig so deep, it’s still full of strong performances, including those by a terrific set of child actors.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    Awake may be hard to categorize, but it's worth our attention.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    Younger has a disarming blend of brass and humility. The second season, judging from the first three episodes, is a real step up.
    • 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.
    • 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).
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Emily Nussbaum
    Westworld is explicitly, and often wittily, an exploitation series about exploitation, full of naked bodies that are meant to make us think about nudity and violence that comments on violence. It’s the kind of trippy conceptual project that would be unbearable if it weren’t so elegantly made. So far, it works, mostly--not because it’s perfect but because it gets under your skin.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 Emily Nussbaum
    [Andrew Haigh & Michael Lannan] collaboration is a real beauty, the standout among several smart series launching in January.
    • 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.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Emily Nussbaum
    Cucumber is the toughest series to take, but it’s also the most ambitious--and, at its heights, it is emotionally wrenching and acridly funny, an audacious and original expression of Davies’s challenging, often critical ideas about gay male identity.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    The show is more than tit for tat: it’s sheer pleasure, no guilt allowed.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 70 Emily Nussbaum
    The stories feel like polished fables, not precisely realistic.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 40 Emily Nussbaum
    The show improves slightly after the jankily paced pilot, but it never sheds its air of leaden nostalgia.
    • 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.
    • 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."
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    Under its lurid surface, is smartly paced and frank--even thoughtful--about the disconcerting fantasies it provokes.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Emily Nussbaum
    I did love Mildred Pierce, mostly, for much of its nearly six hours.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Emily Nussbaum
    It is good, or, at least, it’s effective--unapologetic melodramatic fun, to judge from the first two episodes.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 Emily Nussbaum
    The pilot (the one episode directed by Luhrmann) is truly terrible. It’s baggy and self-indulgent, alternately confusing and obvious. The next three episodes aren’t great, either, though they have flashes of interest. ... Then, suddenly, there’s a legitimately fun eureka sequence in Episode 5, as Ezekiel and his young crew invent a new art form. In Episode 6, we get, finally, what feels like a fully original series.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 40 Emily Nussbaum
    Sadly, the show is carved out of pure phony gravitas--like "The West Wing," only more sanctimonious.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Emily Nussbaum
    The narrative flow is murky and chaotic, and at times it chokes up.... But The Leftovers builds in potency.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Emily Nussbaum
    A slapdash, invigorating, flawed-but-delectable mini-series with a premise of brass balls.
    • 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.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Emily Nussbaum
    If there's a TV writers' version of Stockholm syndrome, Dexter is Exhibit A.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 80 Emily Nussbaum
    BrainDead is aggressively funny and a little sloppy, and it’s that sick-joke aggression, the refusal to take itself seriously, that is the key to its appeal.

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