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Month-to-Month: Episodic Medium's Summer Schedule
We're boldly returning where we've been before, with new contributors
Next month, Episodic Medium will mark an auspicious milestone in its 15-month existence: for the first time, we’re returning to cover a scripted series for a second season, as Zack Handlen’s reviews of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds begin again on June 15.1
It’s momentous in part because a year ago when I brought Zack onboard as our second outside contributor, I had no idea that this year I’d be making a summer schedule where we’re covering 8 shows in the month of July and I’m writing about none of them. While it’s now been over a year since Episodic Medium became more than just “mine,” I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to continue spotlighting the tremendous work of our contributors, who are ultimately responsible for allowing us to bring so much great criticism to your inboxes over the next three months.
To receive the first review for every show we cover and updates on what we’re covering, plus weekly newsletters, become an Episodic Medium subscriber.
It’s also meaningful because one of my favorite rituals as a television critic was coming back to a show after a hiatus. From a writing perspective, it’s a chance to take a macro view of the season you covered a year before, reflecting on what the show has become in your mind in the intervening period. And from a community perspective, I always loved seeing comments that readers were anticipating the review alongside the show itself, with everyone bringing that first day of school energy.2
It will be a summer of returning reviews: Noel Murray will be back for the fifth season of What We Do In The Shadows in July, while I’ll continue my investigation into Only Murders in the Building and my comic-to-screen analysis of Heartstopper when they return in August.3 I’m hopeful that those who joined us to discuss those shows last season have either stuck around or consider reactivating their subscriptions alongside the reviews, because I know personally I’m really thrilled at the prospect of picking up right where we left off (roughly) a year ago.
However, I’m even more thrilled that a new contributor will get the opportunity to pick up where he left off nearly two years ago at The A.V. Club. It was almost a decade ago that Dennis Perkins took over the site’s reviews of FXX’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia with Season 9, which means that he has been on quite a journey with both the series itself and its audience as it continues its improbably lengthy run with a 16th season. I’ve been angling to get Dennis involved for a while, and nothing embodies the goals of Episodic Medium like letting a great critic continue on a beat they’ve been on for nearly 10 years. His reviews of Season 16 begin with the first two episodes on June 7.
On a related note, when we started episodic coverage of the Marvel Cinematic Universe TV series last summer, my first email was to Caroline Siede, who had been on the beat for The A.V. Club in the preceding year with reviews of both Loki and Hawkeye. And while Caroline was otherwise booked at the time, I’m thrilled that she’s coming on board to cover Secret Invasion starting June 21. And if you want to scan through her author profile for other shows you might be interested to see her cover later in the year, you know where the comments are. Same goes for Dennis.
In the short term, though, the rest of our team of contributors are going to be incredibly busy this summer. Let’s break it down by individual:
Ben Rosenstock, currently concluding coverage of the second season of Yellowjackets, jumps into the HBO Sunday beat to help guide us through the potentially odious, likely newsworthy The Weeknd/Sam Levinson collaboration The Idol starting June 4.
Erik Adams moves from his takes on one complicated HBO family—his Succession reviews wrap up Sunday—to another, covering the third season of The Righteous Gemstones when it premieres on June 18 .After Erik took a new job editing reviews at IGN, Donna Bowman has kindly stepped in to handle our coverage of The Righteous Gemstones.
Lisa Weidenfeld has been on the Apple TV+ beat, covering both Mythic Quest and Schmigadoon, and she’ll continue with coverage of the second season of the murder mystery stylistic smorgasbord that is The Afterparty upon its July 12 debut.
Josh Spiegel didn’t exactly ask to be on a permanent Star Wars beat, to be honest with you, but he did a great job with a great first season for Andor and a muddled season of The Mandalorian, so he’s staying on to cover the Dave Filoni-led Ahsoka, which has been vaguely dated for August.
And after spending the year doing a bangup job charting the ebbs and flows of broadcast sitcoms with Abbott Elementary, LaToya Ferguson is ready for a return to Harlan by way of Detroit, as she’ll be covering Justified: City Primeval, the revival of the FX series that begins July 18.
As for me, in addition to Only Murders in the Building and Heartstopper, I’m going to be revisiting my teenage years with reviews of Max’s revival of Clone High, which debuts its first two episodes tomorrow upon the launch of the formally rebranded streaming service. I’ll also be concluding my reviews of The Other Two season three, which continue into June, alongside coverage of other series we’re not covering—like binge releases like The Bear—week-to-week in my weekly-ish newsletters.
Before we get into the sales pitch, here’s the full calendars for June, July, and August:
All told, a subscription to Episodic Medium this summer will bring reviews of 93 episodes of television to your inboxes, alongside insightful comments from the rest of the community. You’ll also get the ability to make your own threads in our subscriber chat, where you can reach out to see if there are any other FromHeads out there, or if everyone was as disappointed with the end of The Big Door Prize as you were. If you’re going to be watching TV this summer, there’s no better community to be a part of than this one, and it’s all yours for only $5 a month.
And while I’ve always found the sales pitch part of this “running a business” situation to be uncomfortable, the circumstances have changed in the past year. Yes, technically speaking, your subscription to Episodic Medium supports me and my work, and I have so much appreciation for the 1400+ who’ve subscribed at some point, whether for a month or a year. But now more than ever, your subscriptions are helping me support smart writers in a climate where their work is being undervalued, and where the systems that once supported their writing are being dismantled and replaced by AI. Every subscription helps me bring on more contributors, cover more shows, and fairly compensate my writers for the work they’re doing to make Episodic Medium happen. And while cheerleading myself may be awkward, I have zero hesitation spreading the word about the amazing work our contributors do, and you’ll be hearing from me about it all summer long.
If you believe in our mission, and want to read some great TV criticism, there’s…well, I was going to say there was no better time to sign up for a yearly subscription, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that we have no idea what the fall will look like in the wake of the ongoing writers’ strike, and thus I totally understand if you’re hesitant to invest. But beyond a promise that we’d absolutely look to alternate programming in the instance that we face a delay in new and returning shows come fall, I hope you see the value of your contribution both in terms of what you’ll get in return and what I’ll be able to build with your support.
As ever, though, simply being a part of the newsletter is a form of support, and I hope free subscribers will enjoy the sampling of our coverage as the summer wears on. Thank you for being a part of this experience, all of you, and I’m so excited to spend July in your shoes enjoying the work of our tremendous stable of critics as they confront the season’s programming.
I’m currently teaching two different summer courses, including my Maymester class on theme parks, which is why I’ve been absent in terms of newsletters. There’s lots to unpack, although I’m curious if there’s any particular recent streaming shows that people would be anxious to hear about which I may or may not have gotten around to finishing—I probably don’t have a newsletter about some of them, and the moment has passed for others, but we’ll see.
At the moment, this is the schedule that I’m comfortable committing to in order to maintain a certain level of freelance rates, but it is always subject to change if subscriptions fluctuate. I’ve tried to build an adaptive system that can account for the churn of subscribers, but it’s not foolproof, and so I will make sure to provide as much notice as possible in the instance there’s a change in plans like we did for Mrs. Davis in the spring.
If you joined us when Donna Bowman joined us to cover the final season of Better Call Saul (which recently made it to Netflix, so I know some folks have been catching up on her reviews), and are wondering when she’ll be back, trust that I’m constantly in communication with Donna about anything she’d be interested in covering. She’ll be back the second she wants to be. [Ed. And is back on Righteous Gemstones.]
Technically, Survivor was our first returning show, but it’s returned twice now, and a 1/3 of paid subscribers turned off emails for it, so it’s an outlier and that’s fine. I get it. Excited to discuss the finale on Wednesday.
This sentence was clearly written by someone who liked school, so adjust the metaphor as necessary, yeah?
I know I’ve been draconian about not covering binge-released streaming shows, but every rule needs an exception, and since I covered season one it feels wrong to stop. It’s also a rule we’ll revisit if/when concerns over subscriber churn make the short duration of the coverage more feasible.