I come to journalism from an untraditional background (I received a PhD in media studies and spent three years as a professor before coming to BuzzFeed) and my list reflects my complex influences as a writer, and what, as a result, I seek out in writing about entertainment.
1, 2, & 3. Sarah Mesle, Lili Loofboorow, Jane Hu (from the “Dear Television” writing team)
I used to write with this crew, so it’s not entirely fair to include them, but the reason I sought them out in the first place was because they were doing some of the best, most hilarious and engaged television criticism out there. That’s what happens when people who have earned (or are earning) Ph.D.s in English write for popular audiences. They have spent the last few months taking on Broad City for Talking Points Memo, but check out their archives (and Mesle’s writing on Game of Thrones, especially) at The Los Angeles Review of Books.
4. Molly Lambert
All writers need someone whose writing they read and think: This makes me want to be better. That’s what Molly Lambert’s writing does for me on a weekly basis. It’s incisive, hilarious and deeply familiar with all corners of pop culture — yet somehow never alienating.
5. Allison Wilmore
Allison Wilmore sits across the room from me at BuzzFeed and I find myself constantly in awe of her ability to distill the complicated cruxes of all sorts of films into a 1,200-word long BuzzFeed review. She has some wicked turns of phrase. You won’t regret following her.
6. Danielle Henderson
Danielle Henderson is on staff at Fusion, but she keeps up a recapping career at Vulture as well. She’s responsible for the Feminist Ryan Gosling meme, which should tell you something about her sensibility. Like me, she’s an academic refugee, and I seek out her writing for its ability to blend high minded analysis with the low brow (and very legitimate) pleasures of everyday television.
7. Taffy Brodesser-Akner
Taffy Brodesser-Akner is a freelancing force. Listen to her Longform podcast and you’ll get a sense of what I mean. Her work in GQ, Matter, and The New York Times Magazine is enough to make any writer jealous if not for the fact that all of it is so. incredibly. good. I highly recommend her meta pieces on Nicki Minaj and The Bachelor‘s Chris Harrison in GQ.
8. Farran Nehme
Farran Nehme’s blog, Self-Styled Siren, does the essential and much-appreciated work of spreading the enduring gospel of silent and classic cinema. I love that her recent book, Missing Reels, manages to combine nostalgia for ’80s era Manhattan with a mystery about long-lost silent film reels.
9. Sonia Saraiya
Sonia Saraiya regularly approaches television criticism from the most unlikely of angles. Her piece on the “Listless, Leggy Dolls” of the Victoria’s Secret talent show exemplifies her ability. It’s a rare thing: a review that manages to analyze the specifics of a program, down to the level of a scene, while simultaneously illuminating the larger structures that produced it. I read everything she writes.
10. Karina Longworth
Karina Longworth has written two books, but it’s her podcast, And You Must Remember This, that’s truly expanding what I thought was possible in terms of classic Hollywood scholarship. (You can read more about it here.) If you love classic Hollywood, this will be your new favorite thing; if you’re unfamiliar, Longworth will make you fall swiftly and deeply in love.