The New Yorker's Scores

For 130 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 34% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 63% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 0.2 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average TV Show review score: 65
Highest review score: 100 Transparent: Season 2
Lowest review score: 10 Ghost Whisperer: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 79 out of 79
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 79
  3. Negative: 0 out of 79
79 tv reviews
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. A TV series that makes revolutionary art seem both irresistible and inevitable.
  4. 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.
  5. It’s heartbreaking, provoking literal nausea, with a psychic hangover unlike any other show. Believe it or not, that’s a recommendation.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. It’s a daring, difficult project, a chewy story about a family from much the same privileged world as “Afternoon Delight.”
  9. A gorgeously living thing.
  10. The new episodes start well, then keep improving, with narrative clarity and a fresh visual beauty.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Freed of the constraints of thirty-minute or one-hour formulas, the episodes are luxurious and twisty and humane, radiating new ideas about storytelling.
  14. 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.
  15. Rescue Me is a daring, unflinching show—a worthy companion to FX’s dark-hearted police drama “The Shield”—and it is unafraid to expose the not always pretty particulars of firehouse culture and the more fallible side of those we count on to save us.
  16. [Andrew Haigh & Michael Lannan] collaboration is a real beauty, the standout among several smart series launching in January.
  17. [A] soaring, inventive miniseries.
  18. 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.
  19. Rock is able to find humor in every aspect of his childhood.
  20. 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.
  21. The result, with its strong, complex, funny, flawed central character, feels truer to life than the zillions of one-dimensional (or no-dimensional) nurses on television.
  22. The show is more than tit for tat: it’s sheer pleasure, no guilt allowed.
  23. Each episode intensifies, emotionally, suggesting the long arc of a story that’s just beginning.
  24. 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.
  25. At six episodes, Happy Valley is satisfyingly compressed.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. Mad Men is smart and tremendously attractive, and it stirs you more than it probably should.
  29. The dialogue isn’t always subtle, but it’s often sharp.
  30. 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.
  31. Wide-ranging and genuinely funny.
  32. Episodes has a sly subversiveness that deepens over time, like mercury poisoning: it's an adult farce that is at once frothy and acerbic.
  33. 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).
  34. McBride is comfortable improvising, and in Eastbound there’s a lot of pleasurable tension in watching Kenny create difficult situations with his poor judgment and get out of them with his escape artist’s quick brain.
  35. 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.
  36. The meanest sitcom in years—and one of the funniest.
  37. Younger has a disarming blend of brass and humility. The second season, judging from the first three episodes, is a real step up.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
  40. Smart, salty, and outrageous, the series falls squarely in the tradition of graphic adult cable drama.
  41. 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.
  42. Men of a Certain Age is bound to attract attention, because its co-creator, and one of its co-stars, is Ray Romano; what shouldn’t be overlooked, however, is the fact that the show is also good. Surprisingly good.
  43. The series has transformed from hokey formula into one of the goofiest, most reliably enjoyable comedies around.
  44. 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.
  45. Under its lurid surface, is smartly paced and frank--even thoughtful--about the disconcerting fantasies it provokes.
  46. 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.
  47. 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.
  48. 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.
  49. 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.
  50. 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.
  51. Awake may be hard to categorize, but it's worth our attention.
  52. 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.
  53. The show is well structured, with blunt but effective sitcom beats, and, refreshingly, it isn’t an “Entourage”-tinted fantasy.
  54. It is good, or, at least, it’s effective--unapologetic melodramatic fun, to judge from the first two episodes.
  55. 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.
  56. 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."
    • 78 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    At its best, the storytelling itself manages to accommodate a sense of historical contingency.
  57. 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.
  58. The narrative flow is murky and chaotic, and at times it chokes up.... But The Leftovers builds in potency.
  59. Revenge is too juicy to write off as junk. It's got strong performances, from actors who don't condescend to their flamboyant dialogue.
  60. Much of the show’s appeal lies in the cast’s shaggy, naturalistic chemistry, which papers over the occasional imperfect plot turn.
  61. Unfailingly enjoyable.
  62. 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.
  63. A slapdash, invigorating, flawed-but-delectable mini-series with a premise of brass balls.
  64. The stories feel like polished fables, not precisely realistic.
  65. 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.
  66. 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.
  67. Compelling, if not quite riveting.
  68. 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.
  69. The plot is difficult to follow - shot sequences, at least in the first two episodes, often pair sex and death (an FX trademark, practically; it’s the network that looks our animal selves in the eye), whether or not their pairing helps the story--but you’re strung along deftly enough so that you do want to know how it’s all going to play out.
  70. 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.
  71. 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.
  72. 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.
  73. For a lot of viewers “Big Love” is going to need time to settle in; it doesn’t have much dramatic texture until about the fifth episode.
  74. It is probably too soon in the series to expect to see more complexity, or some sense of the grinding difficulty of the job of President, and the number of no-win situations that present themselves every day in the Oval Office. But “Commander in Chief” really does make things look too easy.
  75. The three alters are broad stereotypes, but Collette makes the moments of transition surprisingly touching, and sometimes subtly comic.
  76. 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. Not all the tweaks in the plot work well, but most of the series’ flaws are masked by the excellent casting and the good writing for three central characters.
  78. Breaking Bad is very well done, but it has a bleakness that seems to be manufactured for no good reason. In its spiral down toward nothingness, Breaking Bad pulls viewers down with it, just because it can.
  79. There’s no question that the creators of The Pacific set out to honor the marines’ experience; they haven’t exactly failed to do that, but neither have they succeeded in leading viewers to a deeper appreciation of this--then and now--faraway war.
  80. The notion that the Empire ran on pillow talk and poison--the Great Woman theory of history-was also at the heart of the BBC’s 1976 "I, Claudius," but "Rome," with its spitting catfights, is closer in spirit to "Dynasty."
  81. While the ideas behind “The Riches” are often satisfyingly satirical, Izzard’s role—he plays Wayne Malloy, a husband and a father of three, eager to escape the marginal life that he and his family have been living—is stagy and overblown.
  82. Colbert is very skillful at parodying people who are already parodies of themselves, and his show is a lot sharper than most of what passes for comedy on TV. At the end of the day, though--a day, say, on which a President says something foolish, or a Supreme Court nominee has to step aside, or a White House aide is indicted--the voice you’ll most want to hear is still Jon Stewart’s.
  83. In general, there's a pat, familiar quirkiness to The Big C that keeps you at a remove from it, and too many easy appeals to your emotions.... Still, with Linney at the heart of The Big C, there's reason to think that the series will improve.
  84. Season 3--the full season was sent to reviewers--has indelible sequences, but it's a mixed bag.
  85. For what it is, “Million Dollar Listing” is a well-crafted series.
  86. There are many of them [good moments] in Parks and Recreation, in fact; virtually every scene in the first two episodes contains good bits, with quotable quotes, twists of language that viewers feel smart for getting, and visual gags. But the minutes don’t flow; they merely accrete, one bit on top of another.
  87. It's a big production-the first episode alone cost nearly twenty million dollars-and it looks authentic in a way that, paradoxically, seems lifeless. You're constantly aware that you're watching a period piece, albeit one with some vivid scenes and interesting details.
  88. Watching “The Nine” is like trying to do a crossword with only the Across clues. But it promises to reward our vigilance.
  89. The new shows are more concerned with hitting their marks and getting the sociology right than with character, but Pan Am has a bit of style to it, and a note of darkness, and the formula might just work.
  90. The lapping tide of gooeyness would be more tolerable if Stark’s empathy made him lose a big case, and if that loss got messy. “Shark,” though, wants to have it both ways: he keeps winning, but now for the right reasons.
  91. A sitcom doesn’t have to break new ground to be good, but it does have to make you feel that it isn’t just going through the motions. "Christine" satisfies on that score to some extent, but you just want more from it.
  92. Despite the mostly awful dialogue, “Sleeper Cell” succeeds on the strength of its plot.
  93. 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.
  94. If there's a TV writers' version of Stockholm syndrome, Dexter is Exhibit A.
  95. It’s not that much fun to watch an actress who, except for the occasional times when she lets loose one of her charmingly loud second-soprano laughs, seems always to be asking more of us than she’s giving, but Secret Diary of a Call Girl does get better as it goes along, although it doesn’t greatly distinguish itself from most other shows you’ve seen about young single women in the big city
  96. Over all, the show has a little something, but it doesn’t have outstanding curb appeal, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a foreclosure notice in the window sooner rather than later.
  97. 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.
  98. 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.
  99. Rather than innovate, the series, on Cinemax, leans hard on cable drama’s hoariest (and whoriest) antiheroic formulas, diluting potentially powerful themes.

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