Book recommendations from the Festival's programming team.

I Like to Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution by Emily Nussbaum

I like to pretend I have no shame when it comes to admitting how much television I actually watch. While I like to consider myself more of a reader than a viewer, if I’m actually honest with myself, I spend a great deal of my week watching television – sometimes, a lot more. Yet, I still hesitate to spend too much time mulling over the hours I could be reading, while I’m alternatively opting to ‘mindlessly’ binge-watch episode after episode of TV. Television critic for The New Yorker and Pulitzer Prize winner Emily Nussbaum has spent the better part of her career defying the notion that television is any less of a medium than say, film or literature. Instead, she considers television like you might a loved one – unconditionally – despite its flaws, and sometimes because of them.

Her new anthology, I Like to Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution charts television’s critical and cultural reception since shows like The Sopranos and Buffy the Vampire Slayer first hit our screens, to more recent events, as the effects of the #metoo movement, the making of independent web series, and streaming services like Netflix began to change the television industry – and our status anxiety around it.

Emily makes me grateful to have access to so much television – from the shows considered truly great, to all the ‘guilty-pleasures’ I devour, and everything in between. She also makes me feel a whole lot less embarrassed about those so-called ‘guilty-pleasures’ by removing the distinction between the high-brow and low-brow. By considering The Wire just as seriously as she does Jane The Virgin – that is, those shows considered solely for women, who, we’ve all long been told, ‘just wanna have fun’.  

Since ripping through her erudite, considered and sharp collection, I’ve ended up with a to-watch list that could very well take me a lifetime. Like most of you reading this I’m sure, I hate to think of all the books I won’t ever have time to read. Despite this collection adding a whole lot more content to our ever-expanding lists, we can all rest assured that television is a medium worthy of our attention. I Like to Watch proves that television can challenge us, entertain us, and sometimes even change us (and us, it).

Some might even argue that we're living in television’s Golden Age – and I remind myself of this, every time I turn away from my bookshelf and inch ever closer to the light. 

– Daniela Baldry, Program Coordinator