Yes, I watch television for a living. I became The Washington Post’s TV critic in 2009, after two decades as a features reporter at the Post and elsewhere.
Click here to visit my author page at WashingtonPost.com, where you can always catch up on my latest reviews, blog items and transcripts of live chats. You can also catch my stray thoughts and news about TV by following my Twitter account: @hankstuever
I write close to 200 reviews and essays each year, which run in the Post’s Style section and, if the search-optimizing winds are blowing in my direction, reach millions online and through mobile apps. I watch far more shows than I write about, in order to cover as many genres as possible. I try to look at just about everything, to the extent that I can.
I watch quite a bit of TV at home, but I try to screen as much as possible on the TV and computer in my dark little office at the Post newsroom. This helps me draw a line between the TV I have to watch and the TV I want to watch. That line is often blurred.
My approach to criticism is in many ways like the approach I took to reporting and writing feature stories and books: I am most interested in modern American culture and customs — who we are and how we live and what it all feels like; how the popular culture we consume says something meaningful (and sometimes horrifying) about ourselves.
Reviewing television is, for me, a continuation of a lifelong interest in American studies, only instead of taking notes and watching people up close, I’m now taking notes and watching people through the prism of a flat screen and the filters of creators, writers, actors, producers and networks.
I also take seriously my role as the reader’s tribune: When a show isn’t good, it’s the critic’s job to say so, without pulling punches, and serve some strong medicine about why and how it fails. And when good television comes along, it’s my job to clear away the clutter and help readers discover it.