Slate's Scores

For 497 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 39% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 58% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 5.6 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 60
Highest review score: 100 Transparent: Season 2
Lowest review score: 0 Dads: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 243
  2. Negative: 0 out of 243
243 tv reviews
  1. The Returned is very good. Let it have your brains.
  2. Partly due to its virtuosic storytelling and partly to its sheer scope, Made in America often feels like several masterpieces unfolding at a single time.
  3. A gorgeous period drama that swiftly establishes its risqué themes.... Masters of Sex is the best new show of the fall season.
  4. The Pfeffermans, the dysfunctional family at the center of Jill Soloway’s Transparent, return for a second season more poisonous and captivating than ever.
  5. To call it Amazon’s first great series, or the only great series of the new fall season--both of which are true--is to damn it with faint praise.
  6. The Good Wife, a delectable, invigorating series of unprecedented depth and cynicism, is the best drama on TV.
  7. This series is its own idiosyncratic, unexpected, and wonderful thing--and one of the best works of art I’ve experienced in any medium so far this year.
  8. The show has entered full-blown mania as twisted, thrilling, and devastating to watch as a person speaking in tongues.
  9. Creepy, gorgeous, unsettling, and searching, it has--for lack of a better word--a literary quality, an accretion of meaningful detail. You can push on any aspect of the show--every line, every shot, every bruise--and it bears up.
  10. Season 3 of Transparent is as excellent as ever, still better than pretty much everything else on TV, and exceptional in ways that are intrinsically tied to it being a third season.
    • 98 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    As viewers, because of the incalculable talents of the actor Gervais, who also helped create the show, we must choose to humor David or to loathe him—and that choice is exciting, somehow, and challenging.
  11. There’s nothing programmatic about Louie, which idiosyncratically, unevenly explores C.K.’s ideas and instincts without trying to advance an argument. It’s not a joke you’ve heard before. It’s a great shaggy dog story.
  12. A particularly sharp fourth season.
  13. Creative risks abound--and more often than not, they pay off.
  14. Unexpectedly sweet-spirited.
  15. Wwhat it lacks in fun, it makes up for in intelligence, complexity, and boldness.
  16. The catty comments of the Monterey hoi polloi do give the series a gossipy gloss but as directed by Wild and Dallas Buyer’s Club’s Jean-Marc Vallee, Big Little Lies is an empathic drama, a remarkably astute and deep series of character and relationship studies.
  17. Almost every woman is a good person who made or was forced to make a bad decision, instead of something more sinister, more evil, or even more banal--as if these too were not human characteristics.... But if this sentimental streak is a little soft-headed, it springs from the series’ huge heart and its expansive humanism.
  18. The show is provocative, sexually and mentally; it’s alluring and sordid, arousing and disturbing, a unique viewing experience.
  19. Like its heroine, Olive Kitteridge, the four-hour miniseries airing this Sunday and Monday on HBO, is quietly indomitable, more admirable than easily loveable, more likely to get under your skin than send a shock through your system.
  20. The third season is looser, funnier, more emotional and also significantly less logical than what has come before.
  21. Murphy directs with straightforwardness and sincerity and none of the camp fireworks of Glee or American Horror Story.
  22. Ultimately, watching the trial play out as a fait accompli gives it the heft and structure of a classical tragedy in which everyone is undone by his or her seeming strengths turned to weaknesses.
  23. It is part showbiz satire, part alt-comedy showcase, part plaintive character sketch, and all ambitious gonzo, a show that feels like nothing else on TV, a cult classic that, in the age of Netflix, may appeal to a horde.
  24. Watching, it is almost impossible not to root for these two Communists as they do any and everything they can to undermine America. In this regard, The Americans works its American audience as effectively as its heroes work their marks: It makes double agents of us all.
  25. With its first episode, The Night Of tears out of the driveway, scary and thrilling, like a muscle car. But just as it’s about to open up and do 100, it slows down, unwilling to become a joyride. Instead of proving Naz’s innocence, future episodes take in the scope of his circumstance. For all that The Night Of shares with Serial and Making a Murderer, it shares as much with The Wire, a series about the omnipotence of dysfunctional power structures.
  26. Using new audio-only interviews with the Stones as invisible tape, [director Brett Morgen] splices 50 years of footage into a 110-minute education, remixing the work of earlier filmmakers with splendid editing and a critical eye.
  27. A return to classic form.
  28. Even if Extras never accedes to The Office's heights of comic sublimity, it's still a rare find on American TV: a series that combines the ascendant genre of cringe comedy with Gervais' rich comic gifts, and his trademark humanism.
  29. In the context of other television, American Horror Story is perverse and refreshing, proof that a great show doesn’t have to be self-serious to be smart.
  30. The most engrossing new drama of the fall season.
  31. It smoothly toggles between working as a crime melodrama and a coming-of-age tale, as a harrowing piece of social commentary and a gentle bit of farce.
  32. At the outset, this show aimed for hilarity and hit the mark, consistently and cathartically, while also trafficking in provocative sidewalk philosophy, achieving moral seriousness amid masturbation jokes.
  33. Catastrophe, You’re the Worst, and The Mindy Project have proved that long-term relationships can be funny, sexy, enduring, and volatile all once. Master of None joins their ranks: the sweetest, realest, and most poignant of the bunch.
  34. There isn't a scene in the two-hour pilot of Paul Haggis' crime drama EZ Streets that hasn't been done in movies, but perhaps because EZ Streets is on television... its cinematic brio feels unconventional, even startling.
  35. Nathan for You, Comedy Central’s brilliant, fascinating, and uncomfortable interrogation of manners, capitalism, and the manners of capitalism.... As ever, Nathan, an awkward guy in an oxford, doggedly attempts to obey the rules, invariably demonstrating just how absurd and broken those rules are.
  36. UnReal uses its seemingly frivolous setting to stage one of the darkest, most incisive shows on television.
  37. Behold the fantastic second season of the Pamela Adlon’s Better Things, which looks and feels nothing like a typical family sitcom but captures the rhythm of family in a way that members of families, so almost all of us, will find deeply satisfying.
  38. It's a breath of fresh air even for those of us who find our allergies stimulated by the countless particles of whimsy suspended in its thick atmosphere.
  39. It’s not self-serious, but it is serious--about being more entertaining, more emotional, more garish, and more gonzo than so much on television.
  40. The story is muddier and more complex than last season’s, full of halfway nice and semi-awful people rather than the purely good and bad. Every episode starts with a ’70s jam and a jaunty split screen. The Midwestern accents are inconsistent and strange, but that only makes them funnier.
  41. Four adults, tied together by blood, marriage, or friendship, all begin living under one roof, where they filter the sexlessness of marriage, the awkwardness of friend-zones, and the dread of potential spinsterhood through their very specific personalities--which just so happen to be winning enough to make the show addictive.
  42. Fear The Walking Dead, like The Walking Dead before it, does a stupendous job of establishing an eerie tone. (Hopefully it will do a better job than its forebear at maintaining that tone without forsaking character development and inventive plots.) Early on, there are the requisite B-movie beats where camera angles, pacing, and the soundtrack combine to promise very zombie developments that, psych, don’t arrive (until they do), but the real chills come from well-chosen details.
  43. Nashville feels fresh because it catches a different tone. The few ironic winks it makes do not disfigure its straight face for quality pulp, nor does the sincerity harden into hokum.
  44. Downton Abbey manages to be reassuringly familiar and yet surprisingly fresh.
  45. Like the many, many sitcoms about the affluent white experience, this is a show that is meant to be seen and enjoyed by everyone.
  46. Falco has the strength to sell the overwrought cliches and to force each important moment to its crisis.
  47. Valerie remains as indefatigably inane as ever, and so does the show business world around her.
  48. An hour or so into the new version, as we see Mandinka warrior Kunta Kinte (Malachi Kirby), so recently a free man, shackled in the hold of a slave ship, it becomes clear that the current version doesn’t have to best the original to be worthwhile.
  49. Girls and its girls are funnier and more cartoonishly sociopathic than ever. The show continues to engage with and undercut criticism about its characters’ myopia and flaws by owning it.
  50. The best competition show on television stars 11-year-olds.... Like the Scripps National Spelling Bee, MasterChef Junior is a celebration of talent, precocity, merit, obsession, and, above all, losing.
  51. Better Call Saul is a good yarn. It is also exactly the sort of show it is hard to imagine getting greenlit on its own merits. It’s great, but its arc--a working stiff who becomes a shadier working stiff, and then, when things get really exciting, the show ends, because the exciting part already happened on another show--is not the sort that sells in the room.
  52. When Boardwalk Empire is dealing with the consequences of the 18th Amendment, it plays like a sound and steady drama. When addressing the energy around the 19th, it begins to jazz things up.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    To be fair to the actor [Ricky Whittle], the script doesn’t give him all that much to work with early on, and Shadow will eventually become more than just Wednesday’s bodyguard. American Gods is a long, slow burn, but if it stays so true to the novel it’s based on, the bang, when it comes, will be unforgettable.
  53. The Honorable Woman is in many ways, most of them cerebral, an extremely impressive piece of work.
  54. Over three nights and five and half hours, Prohibition provides a very fine analytic survey of the noble experiment, and most criticisms of it are quibbles.
  55. Costello, unlike public television, asks viewers like you for nothing but your attention, which he rewards with intimate assessments of songcraft and the underappreciated architects of modern pop.
  56. Sarah Corvus has arrived to haunt and to taunt, to give our plucky heroine a sinister contrast that the show can't do without.
  57. The Last Panthers is dense and can be hard to follow, jumping around not just in location but in time, introducing more and more characters and complications as it goes. But it pays off.
  58. [A] sharp, very funny new HBO comedy.
  59. In the new season, the characters’ personal politics continue to be satisfyingly complex.
  60. Luther is a great example of all of the annoying a TV show can do and still be worth watching, so long as it gets some essential things right. Luther’s saving graces are that intense, gloomy mood and Elba’s performance.
  61. AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, a series about tech entrepreneurs, albeit ones in 1980s Dallas, begins its much-improved second season having undergone a pivot of its own.... The adjustment may sound slight, but as successful pivoters--billionaires on paper, anyway--would surely be happy to explain, the right pivot can make all the difference.
  62. Pan Am's easy whirl fits the bill, when its chatter is snappy and also when it's not.
  63. Carvel and especially Marsan give such invigorating performances, and play against each other so beautifully, that they breathe life into a friendship that in the book could feel, at times, a bit schematic.
  64. We are brought into the story when the housing case has already been battled over for years, by dozens of political and legal players who are introduced to us in rapid-fire succession. But if you stick with the show, the confusion clears, not with the help of expository chunks of dialogue, but through a lifelike repetition of names, issues, and stakes.
  65. The Jinx is as unnerving as it is engrossing, and that’s exactly as it should be.
  66. Trophy Wife is nominally about a marriage, but if its very polished and sure-handed pilot is any indication, it is just as focused on Kate’s dynamic with Pete’s ex-wives.
  67. The actors are loose, but the writing, overseen by series creator David Caspe, is tight.
  68. Clever with its gaudiness, the new soap opera proceeds as if that invitation is gilt-edged, tackily engraved, and sealed inside an oversized envelope with a kiss of frosted-pink lipstick.
  69. ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat [is] yet another damn good, diverse network sitcom that premieres this Wednesday night and remains funny, charming, sweet, and subtly provocative despite--according to no less an expert than the subject of the show itself--having had some of its edge sanded off.
  70. GLOW is packed with an excellent ensemble cast that includes Alison Brie and Marc Maron, sharp commentary on gender and racial stereotypes, and an awesomely ’80s soundtrack. It’s also just plain fun, aware of (and sometimes shamelessly indulgent in) the inherent silliness of wrestling, while never looking down on it.
  71. The show has the kind of jaunty professionalism of a John Grisham novel, in which an outmatched lawyer takes on a, yes, goliath, and usually wins at great personal expense.
  72. The Affair is a great first date that has the makings of a great series: pleasurable, provocative, insightful, and with the promise of sexiness.
  73. It’s dark and gripping, smart and sure-footed, and takes itself and its audience seriously while avoiding either pretentious brooding or fanboy pandering. It’s also adventurous and different, in a way a show this good was always going to need to be.... Daredevil isn’t a perfect show, nor is it quite a great one, at least not yet.... But it’s startlingly good.
  74. At its best, Glee is not just entertaining but elating, dramatizing Breakfast Club-quality teen angst with the aid of tight production numbers covering new and classic popular songs.
  75. It’s dark, funny, edgy, spooky, and through the first seven episodes, there’s barely a whiff of capes or costumes. The second thing that jumps out is that it’s really, really good.
  76. The pacing of the show's jokes, which heralds a welcome respect for the quickness of the audience, helps all the humor pop. Of course, good-old dumb physical juxtapositions don't hurt, either.
  77. Riverdale, an enjoyable and moody teen series for adults who love teen series, a group of which I consider myself a member, is a fascinating splash in the ongoing remake deluge.
  78. Broad City has a more pronounced DIY vibe, a more surreal, sloppy and affectionate nature: The episodes are more narrowly focused on its two leads getting up to haphazard mischief.
  79. Back to You doesn't have a mandate to be inventive--to try new comedic beats or to attempt daring flights of absurdity. It just needs to be uninventive in a snappy way, a feat readily accomplished.
  80. Covert Affairs is a zippy character study, and it puts Perabo's features to playful use in the earliest moments of the pilot, filling the screen with them in a context where they're begging to be studied.
  81. Gotham reverses the normal superhero disguise: It is not a superhero dressed up in street clothes, it is a gritty noir dressed up like a superhero.
  82. All the pieces are here, not just for a real potboiler, but a satisfying character piece, the sort of show that can flood my living room anytime.
  83. It feels like 30 Rock. There’s the same deadpan, high-octane pacing, penchant for the completely silly, love of weird names, and passion for bizarre pop-culture reference.... But Kimmy Schmidt has a bigger heart than 30 Rock.
  84. Steadfastly crass in content, The League is generally subtle in execution.
  85. The Path is not a rollicking Scientology takedown but a more measured, slow-building dismantling of the insidious accommodations required to maintain absolute religious certainty.
  86. Preacher is flashy, funny, searching, and unpretentious.
  87. What stands out most about Insecure is not its matter-of-fact approach to race but its matter-of-fact approach to wanting a romantic partner.
  88. Each episode of Kimmy Schmidt is so dense it’s like a binge-watch unto itself. Watch one and be full.
  89. Shots Fired has melded commercial and artistic impulses to create a highly entertaining series about entrenched racism.
  90. A charming, ambitious, utterly singular show about a slightly nuts, but loveable woman who regularly breaks into song has made it onto TV.
  91. While American Crime surely is an impassioned and clear-eyed assessment of America’s socio-political dysfunction, the show it reminds me of is HBO’s far more metaphysical The Leftovers, another series questioning the mandate that TV be a good time.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The premiere of The Bachelorette was good!...Appealingly, Trista is also filled with desire herself. Nothing about her is aloof; she's upfront about her lifelong loneliness, her wish for a husband, her fantasies of motherhood. [9 Jan 2003]
    • Slate
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    For those who can get comfortable with all the director’s imponderables, the series’ spell soon becomes immersive. This may not be the Twin Peaks we grew up with, exactly, the show that changed television forever by proving how far the medium could reach. Instead, it’s the Twin Peaks we’ve grown into, the one we’re finally ready for, wherever it plans to take us.
  92. Black Mirror leaves you feeling like you should turn all your screens off while making you incapable of doing anything but hitting “play next.”
  93. Created by Ava DuVernay, Queen Sugar is an intelligent and atmospheric family drama about the Louisiana Bordelon family.
  94. In the suspenseful early hours of The Killing, Rosie's family goes about its bereavement in muted tones, and a subplot about a mayoral candidate drawn into the crime's eccentric orbit flashes with potential, and, primarily, our expectations for cop shows are teased, gratified, and artfully upended.
  95. The episodes unfurl in an excess of good-natured silliness.
  96. Judging from the first three episodes of this fifth season, Harmon is vindicated and triumphant, but also still pretty torn up about everything. Community is no longer a zombie, but the new episodes feel plenty funereal.

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