Heather Havrilesky

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For 185 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 47% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 51% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 5.4 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Heather Havrilesky's Scores

Average review score: 61
Highest review score: 100 Boardwalk Empire: Season 1
Lowest review score: 0 So You Think You Can Dance: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 37 out of 185
185 tv reviews
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 Heather Havrilesky
    From its breathtaking cinematography to its meticulous period costumes to its smart, snappy dialogue to its talented cast, Boardwalk Empire presents a TV program that's so polished and beautifully executed, each episode feels as rich and memorable as its own little Scorsese film.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 Heather Havrilesky
    Treme is a true gift, a way to finally appreciate and embrace one of our most beloved but neglected cities.
    • 98 Metascore
    • 100 Heather Havrilesky
    Yes, it's tough to trace the relationships between various ranks within the police department and the city and state governments, but that doesn't mean this is an incredibly serious drama it takes a degree in literature to understand. "The Wire" is funny and odd and sad and, above all, engrossing.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Heather Havrilesky
    A film-quality drama series about zombies? Somebody pinch me!
    • 98 Metascore
    • 100 Heather Havrilesky
    The first time you watch the show, you really don’t believe what you’re seeing. Each moment feels so real, it’s hard to tell if the actors are improvising brilliantly or just delivering their lines with incredible conviction. Like the best moments of 'This Is Spinal Tap' or 'Waiting for Guffman,' 'The Office' offers up breathtaking slices of deadpan humor and amazing comic timing.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Heather Havrilesky
    Even though Party Down features a steady flow of absurd jokes and funny situations, it still offers more of a consistent, realistic, lively story than dramedies like "Weeds," "The United States of Tara" or "Glee."
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 Heather Havrilesky
    The kid is funny, the mom is funny, the dad is funny, the stories are funny, and Rock's voice-over is fantastic.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Heather Havrilesky
    This is damn fertile soil for a comedy, and creator Jenji Kohan and the writers of "Weeds" farm it for all it's worth in the show's second season, cultivating vivid, surprising stories that naturally transcend the typical limitations of the half-hour format.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Heather Havrilesky
    The acting on this show is so incredible that it's hard to remember that there's any acting going on at all.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 90 Heather Havrilesky
    Not only does Colbert maintain his persona without skipping a beat throughout the entire show, but he's got great comic timing, the show's writers are brilliant, and the whole thing is pure foolish, bizarre, idiotic fun at Bill O'Reilly's expense.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 Heather Havrilesky
    Gervais' timing remains impeccable, and Ashley Jensen is wonderful as his shallow, lazy friend Maggie.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 90 Heather Havrilesky
    Instead of the usual family sitcom curse of clichés and bad "Full House" jokes, Modern Family captures the absurdities, quirks and freakish flaws of today's extended family in ways that feel lively, unique and just dark and mean-spirited enough to be...well, accurate.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 Heather Havrilesky
    FX's Justified translates the intense interactions of author Elmore Leonard's characters into dialogue that's unpredictable, dynamic and positively riveting.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 Heather Havrilesky
    There are elements of this new series that have a quirkiness that might seem deliberate or overly clever against a different backdrop, but that feels natural in its own gracefully odd environment.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 90 Heather Havrilesky
    Unlike anything else you've ever seen on TV.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 90 Heather Havrilesky
    Every single scene of The Wire is meticulously scripted and dramatically riveting.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 90 Heather Havrilesky
    The uninitiated may continue to write off "Battlestar Galactica" as the remake of a mediocre show, or as the domain of science fiction fans alone, but those who've watched the show more than once or twice know better.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 Heather Havrilesky
    There's a sense of gathering gloom as this exceptional drama gains steam in its second season, a feeling that the individual and his or her high-minded goals and values will be dragged under by the wheels of industry and the restrictive norms of the culture, all in the name of modernity and progress.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 83 Heather Havrilesky
    Surprisingly clever dialogue, great characters and an excellent cast will make you enjoy this very typical sitcom in spite of yourself.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 83 Heather Havrilesky
    As odd and fast-paced as you'd expect from a show created by "Arrested Development" creator Mitch Hurwitz.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    As charismatic and unfamiliar as Ramotswe is, after the first hour, it's hard to imagine becoming addicted to this series the way so many readers are addicted to McCall Smith's novels. But then, by the beginning of the second episode, we start to understand: This series is a dramedy, really, a more exotic, more absurd, more original version of "Grey's Anatomy," if you will.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    What Rescue Me has shined and polished to a high gloss, though, is those scenes of aggressive camaraderie between men. They're smart, funny and utterly realistic in terms of the ways that men relate to each other.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    Each week the show is both intriguing and satisfying, as we watch Alicia piece together little victories while comforting her kids and confronting lurking demons from her old life. Despite the usual familiar courtroom shenanigans, the show's full, multilayered episodes keep us interested.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    Although "The Good Guys" might sound like the sort of cliché-heavy dramedy unlikely to hold our attention for more than a few milliseconds, the show pushes its formula just past zany and lands in the far more appealing territory of downright absurd.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    May be the most riveting and the most haunting drama to air this fall.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    While I realize my entire description makes the show sound hopelessly shallow and unrealistic (which it is), it's also smart and well acted and at times, funny.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    The only bad thing about Summer Heights High is that it makes a lot of American comedies look pathetically unoriginal and lackluster by comparison.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    Skilled chefs, great dishes, a few doomed nervous Nellies and lots of petty squabbles ahead? What more could a loyal Top Chef fan ask for?
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    Although Banks has a bad habit of tooting her own horn endlessly while the cameras roll, she may be justified in doing so, since, from the opening graphics to the hip-hop soundtrack, her show has been undeniably imaginative and engrossing.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    Watching Dexter endure the bubbly, enforced cheer of family life may make this the best season of the drama series to date.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    One of the major strengths of "The Unit" is its ability to tackle the blurry ethical lines and confusing behavioral codes of the military during a time of war.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    You'll find an important (and rare) thing: an off-kilter show that's at once smart, outlandish and very funny.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    Although every second of this comedy is far from genius, the disturbed mood and unique mean-spirited flavor of it all points to what the network comedies are so often lacking: bold choices that border on the absurd.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    Even if it slices and dices art into something consumable and therefore disposable, I love the audacity of Bravo's Work of Art: The Search for the Next Great Artist. This show takes all of the petulance and nastiness and passion of "Project Runway" or "Top Chef" and applies it to the rarefied realm of fine art.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    Combining intelligent layers of mystery with sly dialogue and a steady flow of action, Whedon has crafted a provocative, bubbly new drama that looks as promising as anything to hit the small screen over the course of the past year.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    Combining the breakneck comedy and sly farce of "Arrested Development" with the pop-savvy wit of "Ugly Betty" and the twisted humor, odd soundtrack and deadpan voice-overs of one of the greatest movies about high school of all time, "Election," Glee is bold, silly, demonic and addictive--one full hour of very good (but not very clean) fun.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    While the orgiastic madness of Season 2 might be hard to top, the first three episodes of Season 3 look promising indeed, serving up one juicy twist after another, plus a steady flow of great dialogue, intense conversations, brutality, blackmail, mystery, suspense and, best of all, some wickedly funny moments that are beyond compare.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    Mad Men is smart, funny, eye-opening, and probably 10 times better than anything you'll see this fall, so don't miss it.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    In its fourth season, Friday Night Lights is just as thoughtful and restrained as it's ever been, with its focus firmly planted on the small-town disappointments of ordinary people.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    With its patient pace and restrained style, Rubicon may take a while to get to the truth, but at least as viewers we suspect that there will be something weighty to discover once it does.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    Look a little closer, though, and what you'll find is a truly strange cop dramedy with lots of sharp dialogue, jocular banter and offbeat scenarios.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    Hung is much more subtle and charming and odd than its name or its concept imply.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    Wootton dips as far into darkness as even Baron Cohen, but instead of merely relying on cursing and butt thongs to create comic gold, Wootton crafts a well-thought-out narrative and puts a few props in place before he meets his real-life characters.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    CW's Nikita remake isn't nearly as awful as you'd imagine. In fact, it's remarkably good.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    It only takes two episodes to demonstrate that this season is going to be another wild ride, maybe even one that's a little more nuanced and unpredictable than the first.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    Only one thing is for certain: Even if you're skeptical of science fiction, Battlestar Galactica will make a true believer out of you.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    The Starter Wife is fun and clever, but it’s witty dialogue and a great cast, not thoughtful storytelling, that keep this rich-divorcée gaffe-fest rolling along.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    Saving Grace is my second-favorite cable drama this summer ("Mad Men" being the obvious front-runner), thanks to the excellent cast (Kenny Johnson and Laura San Giacomo, among others), and the fact that Hunter plays Grace with so much authenticity and scratchy sweetness.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    The first episode of Community features alarmingly smart writing, and the cast is fantastic, from Chase, who can make us laugh with just a look, to McHale, who's believably slippery but not too adorably caddish or cloying (Zach Braff, anyone?) as the antihero.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    Life on Mars is colorful and fun and well-written.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    Breaking Bad has so many redeeming qualities, from its low-key, almost mean-spirited sense of humor to its stark, artistic shots of the Albuquerque sky to the patient pace with which its story unfolds, that it seems a shame to miss any of it just because we're accustomed to more sugary, cheerful tales.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    With a careful mix of respect, curiosity and humor, the filmmakers offer a colorful and surprisingly nuanced tour of the day-to-day operations of the USS Nimitz during a six-month deployment in 2005, from California to Hong Kong, Guam, Bahrain and Perth, Australia.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    "This American Life" features the same rich, rambling storytelling that makes the radio show so hypnotic, but it's enhanced by cinematography that's lovely and artful without distracting from the story lines or the tone of the show.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    Watching Pete ride an emotional roller coaster may be the most entertaining part of Mad Men. Pete beautifully demonstrates the mixed blessing that big responsibilities bestow on the average life.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    Hunter is just so good and the writing is subtle enough that we're willing to go along for the ride, from those looming-tornado opening credits to the last scene of each episode, in which a new heartstrings-plucking tragedy is neatly and satisfyingly resolved.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    Aliens in America is packed with actual jokes and the story lines are tight and funny.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    OK, fine, so maybe the pilot does wrap up with your typical teary-eyed confession. Otherwise, though, Lie to Me is as thoroughly entertaining and charming as its fine-looking cast of characters.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    Archer is funny. If you don't agree after the first episode, keep watching. You might try drinking a little coffee or having a doughnut before you tune in, though, because the zingers fly by pretty quickly.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    Thankfully, while the reckoning of "The Memory Loss Tapes" is probably necessary, the other documentaries in the series are a little more hopeful.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    A heartfelt, inspiring, uplifting TV show that brings out the best in people? Who could possibly resist that?
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    Californication is reasonably charming straight out of the gate, and as the story progresses, the intelligence of the writing gains traction.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    The high-caliber storytelling is what separates United States of Tara from just another kooky romp of a dramedy, teetering precariously on a superficial premise.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    But the utter lack of hipness of Men of a Certain Age, the total lack of concern for what's deemed cool and what isn't, the complete disregard for matching the breakneck pace, the action, the swooning romances, the spitty outbursts, the shiny thrills of other TV shows, is exactly what makes this drama so lovable.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    Scorsese's documentary offers us a long overdue taste of her unique, queasily accurate perspectives on our culture--always right, never fair and never disappointing.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    Yes, Bored To Death may be a parody of noir, or maybe it's a dramedy that dips into detective novel tomfoolery, but most of all, it's a story that revels in the realm of those strange overgrown children who use artistic pursuits to justify their weak little whimpering selves.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    The dialogue is just so artful and poetic, the characters are so appealing, the whole damn package is so original and daring and lovely, that after watching the first four hours, it's impossible not to feel inspired and cheered by the fact that a drama this ambitious and unique could make it onto network TV.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    ABC's Shark Tank is easily the best new reality TV show to air this summer (which, admittedly, isn't saying much).
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    Big Love not only recovers from this near disaster in its third season, but its episodes build to a dramatic climax heretofore unseen on this series.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    This show transcends the base level of twisty procedurals with one thing: Patty Hewes.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    Just as "King of the Hill" started out as a show about middle-class Texans and slowly evolved into a twisted take on mainstream suburbia and family life at large, The Goode Family should eventually transcend the boundaries of its original premise.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    With snappy writing, stunning art direction and a great cast, this really is the new show you don't want to miss.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    The second season of HBO's Flight of the Conchords offers another wave of quirky hilarity of the very highest caliber, from Bret pawning his guitar to pay the rent, then mimicking guitar-playing while humming his part onstage, to Jemaine looking to supplement the duo's income with a little freelance prostitution.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Heather Havrilesky
    As funny as he is, it's clear that Louis C.K. doesn't just want to tell jokes. He wants to present the full force of his terrible brain, the ways that he eats himself alive day after day.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 75 Heather Havrilesky
    Who doesn't want to see Vic Mackey catch bullets with his bare hands? [But] You might be longing for Vic Mackey to crush skulls with his bare hands after a few minutes of this happy-go-lucky, discovering-the-importance-of-family romp.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 75 Heather Havrilesky
    The suspenseful, unpredictable pilot suggests one of the most intriguing serial dramas of the fall season. [But] We once wrote the same thing about "Flashforward."
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 Heather Havrilesky
    Clumsy and tone-deaf as it sometimes is, High School Confidential offers a fascinating look at the challenges and heartbreaks facing today's teenage girl.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Heather Havrilesky
    Somehow, this ridiculous show manages to entertain us without any semblance of character development or the remotest whiff of a familiar, relatable scenario.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 Heather Havrilesky
    The first episode of this show will probably make you roll your eyes and beg the gods for mercy. Don't give up, though, because In Treatment is sharp and unique and worth the effort.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 70 Heather Havrilesky
    Far from epic, John Adams is a biopic as intense and moody as the man himself.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Heather Havrilesky
    So once again, just as we're starting to warm up to our deathly pale but diplomatic vampire friends, we're treated to Ball's rather prosaic enjoyment of stock Southern Christian characters who would only seem fresh and original to a Frenchman.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Heather Havrilesky
    I also really enjoyed NBC's Bionic Woman. There's lots of super-powered action, I like regular-girl Michelle Ryan as Jaime Sommers, and best of all, Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck from "Battlestar Galactica") plays the eeeeevil former bionic woman, Sarah Corvus.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 70 Heather Havrilesky
    If you adored "Saving Private Ryan" and "Band of Brothers" (I enjoyed but didn't love both), then "The Pacific" is well worth your time. But if you're sometimes left cold by the epic films that others gush over, if you're often lukewarm on Spielberg and expect more from a war movie than just realistic battle scenes, then I would skip the 10 hours of viewing time and rent "The Thin Red Line" instead.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 Heather Havrilesky
    While the unguarded moments and eclectic musical performances --typically Costello collaborating with a guest on one of his or her lesser-known hits--make Spectacle well worth a closer look, the show occasionally feels like a songwriter's version of "Inside the Actor's Studio," with all of the qualities and the faults that implies.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 Heather Havrilesky
    Martha Plimpton and Garret Dillahunt as the dumb dad's parents really make this one impossible to ignore completely. And even though we've already got "Oh no the ugly chick likes me" jokes and "You're right, the baby's limbs could get amputated this way" jokes and other material that might make you smile but never laugh, there's also a slightly disturbed tone here that's hard to match on sitcoms about yuppies having bad hair days.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 Heather Havrilesky
    Sorkin may be self-important, but he's certainly not mediocre.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 70 Heather Havrilesky
    If your family game nights tended to end with someone upturning the Monopoly board, then running to their room in tears, and your family trips hit their low point at a national monument in the middle of nowhere when someone abruptly got out of the car and refused to get back in, you're likely to find "Lucky Louie" fairly entertaining.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 Heather Havrilesky
    This excursion into the far reaches of space, brought to you by "Battlestar Galactica" producers Ronald D. Moore and Michael Taylor, proves far more compelling than most made-for-TV movies--and most TV pilots, for that matter--up until its abrupt, hair-pullingly inconclusive ending.
    • 40 Metascore
    • 70 Heather Havrilesky
    Lipstick Jungle is just as fluffy and soapy as you'd imagine a show based on a book by Candace Bushnell should be, it's still far smarter and more appealing than ABC's rich-and-powerful-lady fluff-fest "Cashmere Mafia."
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Heather Havrilesky
    There are times when you have to question the writers' urge to pack in everything but the kitchen sink...Fortunately, Kelly and McClintock pull off their roles in this precarious high-flying adventure, teetering between heaviness and humor in each scene.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 70 Heather Havrilesky
    All I see is a bunch of reasonable, ambitious types and one kooky hippie. Do you honestly think we're going to hang around just to hear Tim Gunn say "Make it work!" for the fifty-millionth time in a row?
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Heather Havrilesky
    The best thing about "Prison Break" is that we've never seen anything like it before.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 70 Heather Havrilesky
    Did I mention that The League is occasionally pretty funny? Forget that it's basically a Bud Light commercial stretched out to fit a half-hour of broadcast time.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 70 Heather Havrilesky
    With such a knockout concept at its core, Flash Forward may still be on our minds six months from now--that is, if we're not too busy piecing together global mysteries or cheating on our husbands to notice.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 70 Heather Havrilesky
    After two episodes, "The Boondocks" shows promise, defies categorization and, basically, could either evolve into a great show or become repetitive really fast.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Heather Havrilesky
    While you do have to wonder where the show will go from here, since it has the plot of a two-hour movie, not a 20-hour series, it has the benefit of being far more original and unpredictable than 90 percent of the new shows to hit the airwaves this fall.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Heather Havrilesky
    The conceit--power players duel against a backdrop of ambition, greed, corruption and really good bourbon--feels bulletproof enough, but in practice, the show careens into cartoon territory almost immediately, thanks in part to the absurd contrast between Axelrod and Rhoades.... [But] Billions is exactly the sort of show that, if you don’t reject its over-the-top tactics in the first three episodes, will hook you by the sixth.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 Heather Havrilesky
    This enlightening series clearly has an agenda: to help addicts and their families set aside the guilt and anger associated with addiction long enough to do the concrete work of thoroughly treating the disease.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Heather Havrilesky
    On a scene-by-scene basis, this is a truly great show. Great actors working with a great script and bringing these really beautiful, thoughtful exchanges alive....But the big picture of Big Love, the overarching narrative, is weaker than these scenes would suggest.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 70 Heather Havrilesky
    Games of make-believe might be useful, but otherwise, playtime is just a dangerous fantasy that gives children the illusion that their lives won't be a living hell when they grow up. Is that really fair? That's why it's so satisfying to watch as the kids realize that they have to work, and work is hard.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Heather Havrilesky
    Needless to say, Kevin Spacey and Denis Leary are both lively and funny in their roles as members of Al Gore's team, but it's Laura Dern who really steals the movie with her hysterically self-involved portrait of Katherine Harris.

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