WTF Happened to The Unaffiliated Critic?

So…you may have noticed some changes. 

Welcome to the new home of The Unaffiliated Critic. No, I haven't been bought-out by an evil media conglomerate for sacks and sacks of filthy lucre. (I should be so lucky.) I am still gloriously unaffiliated, and likely to remain that way.

But I've been wanting to make some changes for a while now, and this seemed as good a time as any to do some reorganizing and redecorating. When I first launched this site, back in the halcyon days of 2011, I had absolutely no idea how to use this technology, and only the vaguest notions about what I wanted (and needed) the site to be. So I slapped it together with simple templates, experimented with mismatched plugins I could abuse, and half-learned to tweak code in ways that were disastrously sloppy and still never quite did what I wanted to do. Over time, the site became a Frankenstein's monster of slow-loading clutter that depressed me every time I looked at it.

So this is the new look. I still don't know what I'm doing, for the record, but the templates have gotten easier to use and modify. (This is the Spacious Pro theme from ThemeGrill, modified—probably disastrously again—by me.) It's better, no?

(I expect there will still be some bugs to fix, and older posts and images won't look as good as newer stuff until I get around to fixing them all for this layout. Please bear with me, and if you encounter any problems, let me know.)

And the changes are not purely cosmetic: I'm also changing my focus. When I launched this site, I originally—and, I now realize, naively—intended to review movies, TV shows, books, music, and whatever the hell else I felt like reviewing. (Plays? Restaurants? Fabric softeners?) I did exactly one music review—it's here, if you're curious about this novelty item—and then immediately narrowed my focus to TV shows and movies exclusively.

But one of the things I've realized over the past three years is this: there's a reason there aren't a lot of "TV/movie critics." It's hard to do both. It's harder to do both well. And it's almost certainly impossible to do both well while still holding down a full-time job on the side. My long-time readers will have noticed that my movie reviews have been few and far between lately, and a lot of that is just not having the time.

But there are other factors. For one, I must confess I haven't been as excited about reviewing movies for a while now. I love movies, I've always loved movies, and every once in a while I get really, really excited to write about a movie—but not often. What I've discovered through this website is that I love analyzing things more than I like reviewing things, and my movie posts have mostly been just that—reviews. (There are a lot of reasons for this—timeliness, spoiler-concerns, and the difficulty of writing about something I may have only seen once—but they all add up to being a very different kind of writing.) And the pressure of trying to do both movies and TV made me hesitant to expand my coverage to a number of shows I might have liked to write about, like True Detective, Fargo, and Louie. 

It's in the TV reviews that I feel I can stretch my muscles and do the kind of writing I like to do. And, apparently, most people agree: with one categorical exception (which I'll get to in a minute), my TV reviews have been—by far—the most popular articles on this site. Seriously, it's not even close.

(The one exception is The Unenthusiastic Critic, the series in which N., my long-suffering girlfriend—fiancée, rather—smart-asses her way through viewings of movies she's never seen. Those are among the most popular articles on the site. And so—though N. sort of hoped this meant she was done with that forever—we will not only be continuing that series, but also spinning it off into its own site. Watch for the launch of our new sister site, UnenthusiasticCritic.com, coming as soon as I can build the damn thing and con N. into watching more movies.)

Otherwise, somewhat reluctantly, I've decided to focus on television from here on out. I will miss writing about film, and I probably won't be able to resist the temptation to post some mini-reviews and recommendations of movies on my Facebook page (so follow me there if you want to know what I think is and isn't worth seeing).

But I'm going to turn the rest of my attention towards TV from now on. In addition to my normal (ridiculously long) reviews—Doctor Who is back August 23!—I'll be returning to my long-abandoned First Look/Last Look series, in which I survey the new fall season for shows I might like to cover. I'm also planning to expand my viewing, and experiment with different ways of writing about television. (The first such experiment has already begun, as I've begun gorging myself on Breaking Bad in a new series I'm calling "Binge Watch.") I encourage suggestions of shows you'd like to see me cover in the future.

So that's it. Feel free to leave me comments below telling me what you think of the new site. (Just be aware that it was a lot of work, and I'm a little touchy about it, and if you tell me you don't like it I might start weeping copiously. But if you can live with that, by all means, give it to me straight…)

 

 

The Unaffiliated Critic

Michael G. McDunnah is a freelance writer, a recovering lit major, a pop-culture junkie, and an unaffiliated critic. He lives in Chicago.

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