For decades, critical praise for a TV show was that it was “not like TV,” but more like a novel or a movie. That ingrained hierarchy always bugged Emily Nussbaum, who went on to win a Pulitzer Prize for her criticism in The New Yorker. She has been compared to Pauline Kael, but Nussbaum—acknowledging the compliment—is quick to point out that she has never written about movies, nor has she wanted to. She was inspired to be a TV critic by the Web site Television Without Pity, on which passionate, informed fans argued constantly. In her new book, “I Like to Watch: Arguing My Way through the TV Revolution,” Nussbaum argues that the success of serious antihero dramas like “The Sopranos” and “Breaking Bad” has led many to devalue mainstays of TV, like comedies and even soap operas. It’s time to stop comparing TV to anything else, she tells David Remnick.
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