Episodic Medium is a Substack dedicated to week-to-week, episodic television criticism edited by me, Myles McNutt, building on my experience as a contributor for The A.V. Club and the author of my own blog, Cultural Learnings. It is designed as a space for close analysis of television, as well as engaged dialogue and conversation about that television among subscribers. It offers paid subscribers full access to weekly reviews of their favorite shows by myself and many of my former A.V. Club colleagues and a community of over 900 engaged viewers, along with a weekly newsletter for all subscribers.

Episodic Origins

I started Episodic Medium after The A.V. Club’s management were forced out by their venture capital overlords. I was no longer comfortable writing for the site under the circumstances, but I knew I wanted to keep writing about television on a weekly basis. But when I looked at the market for episodic television criticism, I saw strikingly few sites committed to a wide range of reviews, and none of them had the kind of robust comment sections that I had found so enriching at The A.V. Club.

A newsletter presented as an opportunity to create a community around my own criticism, with the hope that paid subscriptions could begin as a way to support my labor and grow into a way to support the labor of past A.V. Club colleagues who were similarly displaced, and well as new writers. Six months later, that dream has become a reality.

Episodic Contributors

Myles McNutt—that’s me—is an Associate Professor of Media Studies at Old Dominion University, and the author of Game of Thrones: A Complete Guide to Westeros and Beyond. In addition to weekly reviews at The A.V. Club, my work has also appeared at Slate, Polygon, and The Washington Post.

Donna Bowman is Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Central Arkansas, and one of the originating members of The A.V. Club’s TV Club, covering a wide range of shows highlighted by her coverage of Breaking Bad and its prequel, Better Call Saul.

Zack Handlen is not a professor, but he is instead an author and critic, whose work includes Monsters of the Week: The Complete Critical Companion to The X-Files alongside Emily St. James. In addition being one of the early contributors to The A.V. Club’s television coverage, including Classic reviews of Star Trek series, he also covers several shows on his Patreon, Zack Handlen Writes.

Noel Murray is a freelance critic, covering a range of television and other media across outlets including The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times, in addition to being a founding member of both The A.V. Club’s TV Club—covering shows like Lost, which we collaborated on for coverage of its third season—and The Dissolve.

Josh Spiegel is a freelance writer and editor you may know from his recent work at /Film, where he has reviewed a wide range of films and TV shows, covering series like Barry and Only Murders in the Building on a weekly basis. You might also know him from a ceaseless collection of Disney-related Twitter brackets designed to drive me, Myles, insane on a daily basis.

LaToya Ferguson is a writer based in Los Angeles, and was a long-time contributor to The A.V. Club, covering shows like Lucifer and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and is also a connoisseur of Procedurals That Fuck. You can also hear her as the co-host of the Angel on Top and AMPire Diaries podcasts, and she is the author of An Encyclopedia of Women’s Wrestling.

Episodic Subscription

In order to support this criticism, Episodic Medium operates on a paid subscription model. For $5 a month, or $50 a year, you receive the following:

  • Access to all weekly reviews, which averages 25+ per month

  • Weekly Discussion Posts

  • Commenting privileges across those reviews and all other content

  • Access to all free content

Free subscribers get access to my Week-to-Week newsletter, covering a range of topics tied to television and media, in addition to receiving access to the first review of each series we cover here at Episodic Medium.

Your paid subscriptions give us the opportunity to expand our coverage, both in terms of covering a wider range of shows and introducing more new contributors in the months ahead.

Episodic Testimonials

I fully understand that asking you to pay for something you’ve historically received for free can be a challenge, and you might question whether there is enough value for your money in subscribing. As such, here are some testimonials from existing subscribers about what they value about the Episodic Medium community.

“Episodic Medium lets me re-engage with smart critics interrogating smart TV. I've gained deeper understanding of the shows I watch, as well as greater appreciation for what they're doing that would otherwise be lost on me.”

“I've missed the week to week experience of watching something then having a nice discussion about it so it's nice to have that back. Comments are really top quality and I like the engagement that you and the other authors give replying to comments.”

“I'm very much the type to go deep pop culture analysis and reading the thoughts of others, be they professional reviewers or the type of person willing to pay a fee for reading/commenting privileges—not to sound elitist, but I'm sure that putting commenting behind the paywall has kept the level of discourse higher than it might be in other parts of the internet.”

“I feel like commenting here is safe unlike Twitter or even many websites. I think because people pay, they want it to be a great experience.”

“Donna's reviews add a whole other layer to watching Better Call Saul. I don't feel like I've fully processed an episode until I've read her rich and thoughtful reviews, as well as other's thoughts and interpretations. It makes for such a communal experience to all ruminate together about this phenomenal creation!”

“Knowing you're amongst like-minded folks makes the thought of commenting less terrifying.”

“I do appreciate how you (and some of the other writers like Donna) have come into the comments. Definitely feels less top down than some other sites.”

“I do enjoy the community at episodic medium and anticipate their comments as much as the actual reviews. That you have created a community where people can gather and say smart things about television, or anything really, without harassment must be applauded.”

“I've missed the week to week experience of watching something then having a nice discussion about it so it's nice to have that back. Comments are really top quality and I like the engagement that you and the other authors give replying to comments.”

“Reading the comments the morning after my favorite shows air an episode is a cherished ritual that I am very happy to be able to do again.”

There was one consistent trend across this feedback that I want to highlight.

“It takes me back to the glory days of AV Club, where the analyses are thoughtful and insightful, and the commenters are all regulars who add to that insight.”

And when I asked subscribers how they would describe Episodic Medium to a friend, the responses told a similar story.

"The Dream Of Early-2010's A.V. club is alive in your inbox"

“Remember the AV Club? Well it's back! In Substack form!”

“Like a smaller version of the best days of AV Club episodic reviews, except everyone paid 5 bucks to be there so there aren't any trolls.”

“Did you like the good old days of the AV Club? Then you'll like Episodic Medium.”

“Remember the AV Club?”

“AV Club how it used to be/should be”

Needless to say, given that my goal in starting this Substack was to recapture the energy behind the work I had done for The A.V. Club, it is gratifying to learn that people are finding that the Episodic Medium community is capturing the essence of what once was.

I understand that your interest in Episodic Medium’s coverage will depend on whether you are watching the shows we are writing about at any given time—while we are aspiring to write about the shows people are talking about, at this point that is still limited, and so it’s important to me that you have a sense of what we’re covering at any given time, and what we intend to cover in the future.

The following is the schedule for September 2022, where we are currently reviewing the following series:

  • House of the Dragon (HBO, Sundays) [Myles McNutt]

  • Rick and Morty (Adult Swim, Mondays) [Zack Handlen]

  • What We Do In The Shadows (FX, Tuesdays) [Noel Murray]

  • Survivor Season 43 (CBS, Wednesdays) [Myles McNutt]

  • Andor (Disney+, Wednesdays) [Josh Spiegel]

  • She Hulk: Attorney at Law (Disney+, Thursdays) [Myles McNutt]

  • Abbott Elementary (ABC, Thursdays) [LaToya Ferguson]

  • The Lords of the Rings: The Rings of Power (Amazon, Fridays) [Zack Handlen]

  • The Good Fight (Paramount+, Fridays) [Donna Bowman]

The following are tentative schedules for the remaining months of 2022.

In October, it’s mostly a continuation of the previous month. As of now, HBO’s The White Lotus has an “October” premiere date that we can logically place the week after House of the Dragon concludes its run, but that is unconfirmed, so let’s presume it lands on the 30th.

Based on precedent, November should bring the debut of my own coverage of the third and final season of His Dark Materials. Apple is reporting a “late fall” debut for Mythic Quest’s third season, meanwhile, and Donna Bowman’s coverage of the Good Fight and Zack Handlen’s reviews of Rick and Morty both conclude.

His Dark Materials, The White Lotus, and Survivor finish their seasons in December, most likely, while Abbott Elementary goes on hiatus (and all weekly episode schedules for that show are hugely tentative). Meanwhile, the third (and maybe final) season of Apple’s Ted Lasso could debut in December, but is more likely to join early 2023 shows we intend on covering including HBO Max’s The Other Two and HBO’s The Last of Us. We are also always looking for new shows that might warrant coverage, and will keep these calendars updated if and when reviews are being added.

Episodic Future

The future of Episodic Medium is very much in the hands of its subscribers—the more subscribers we get, the more we will be able to expand coverage. I will be able to bring in more contributors, and pay those contributors better, and together we will be that much more invested and committed in building a community like the one we enjoyed in the past.

There’s been talk of an Episodic Medium Discord server, and of course other shows coming in the year ahead that will no doubt be spurring on additional conversation, and I am as excited as you are to see how the community continues to expand and engage in the months ahead. Thanks for taking the time to read about what we’re aiming to achieve, and I’ll be honored if you can join us in either a paid or free capacity.

Myles McNutt

Editor, Episodic Medium


People

Myles McNutt
Television critic and media scholar.
Donna Bowman
Theologian, professor, knitter, mom, critic. Ex-AV Club. Dissolve-adjacent.
Josh Spiegel
I write about the Walt Disney Company, for publications like Slate, The Washington Post, and Slashfilm. And now, I'm writing about Disney here.
Zack Handlen
something about myself.
Noel Murray
Family cook, baseball fanatic, pop obsessive, veteran critic (AV Club, Dissolve, NY Times, LA Times), friendly fellow