Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Review

Friday, September 5, 2014

Some Guidelines for Writing Your Review of Gravity Falls

The New Yorker
The New Yorker (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* No boring leads, please. Look at the three leads in the sitcom package. They are designed to keep you reading, all three of them just a little cheeky and provocative, in the case of the New Yorker writer wonderfully specific. But don't get hung up on the lead if it doesn't come quickly. Jump in, start writing and later, during editing, take that insight or that description that fills you with pride and make it your lead.

* Somewhere in your review you will provide the basic facts of the plot and description of the characters, not just summing them up but connecting them to your ideas about the show. "When character X did Y, it made you think that.... " A review that consists almost entirely of a synopsis of the plot is boring and useless. Also, one of the things that makes this kind of TV reviewing easier is that you don't have to worry about spoilers. You can follow the story right through to the end. Indeed, the end is probably when the point of the episode - and the arc of the series - start to come clear. You are describing an episode - or episodes if you're ambitious - of a show that's already out there. Even if you "spoil" an episode or two, viewers will have plenty of surprises left. (If I were reviewing a whole season of a show, no, I would draw back at certain points and refrain from spoiling key episodes.)

* Don't forget your aim is to recommend, for or against. It's possible you'll say parents might want their kids to watch, but those kids wouldn't enjoy it. Or vice versa. You may say you love it but kids and parents will hate it. And vice versa. Just as in the restaurant review, you give it a star rating.

* Earlier in this blog I posted some basic facts about Gravity Falls to allow you to comment on its relative popularity. You will probably very briefly want to refer to that info. A word or two and a hyperlink will be enough.

* I'm assuming that - at least in passing - you will comment on this whole question of whether or not TV shows have an effect on viewers, particularly kids. You can speak to that point from your own experience being exposed to kid culture of any kind.

* I've talked a lot about TV shows being a window on culture, on how they resonate with all sorts of contemporary social issues like race, gender, sexuality and class. I expect you to touch on one or more ways in which Gravity Falls, in  your opinion, tells us something about who we are and how we live. But obviously you can't spend too much time on such topics. You don't have enough space to explore all the issues that could be explored. Be selective.

* And so we return to our original point. Be entertaining. Write in an accessible, conversational style. Write like a TV reviewer whose work you like. At the end of your review, let me know what audience you are writing for. But it can NOT be aimed at stuffy university professors who don't like lively, clever writing with a bit of attitude..


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