Links to Some of My Writing about TV

Hi! I write about TV and other things (but mostly TV). Here are recent pieces (and conversations) I’d love you to check out!

During the last 16 years or so, I was a TV critic at Variety, at HuffPost, and at the Chicago Tribune. Everything I wrote at Variety, from fall 2015 to spring 2018, is collected here. A smattering of 2016-2018 pieces I would love for you to read are below:

Previous job: TV critic for Huffington Post. Quite a bit of that work is here. You can also find the HP pieces here, and there are archives going back to 2011 on the right side of that page.

Until the fall of 2010, I was the TV critic for the Chicago Tribune. All that work is collected here, and the archives are organized by show title and by month. Not every program I ever covered is in the show title list, by the way. Although “Wonder Showzen” is, because why not.

Also! I have an Instagram (warning: It’s mostly pictures of pretty flowers). Three other things before I get started for real: One, I frequently get the questions, “How did you become a TV critic? How could I get into the writing-about-TV game?” and I’ve addressed those queries in this post. Two, I still love TV and, as you can see from the links above, I’m still writing about it, reporting on it and even doing the occasional review, but I’m no longer reviewing TV full time, and this Vanity Fair article explains why. Three, if you’d like to know more about my life and tattoos, this post from 2013 is from the middle of my family-pocalypse and this is about life stuff and my arm tattoos, and this is my back piece.

I’ve covered and reviewed so many shows over the years; I’m a lucky human. If you Google “Maureen Ryan” and just about any TV show name, you’ll probably come up with something I wrote somewhere (I’ve even freelanced now and then, and I always forget about that stuff!). What I’m trying to say is, the following roster is horribly, horribly incomplete, because hundreds of shows I’ve loved (or loathed! Or loved and loathed!) are not on it. But here are a few notable stops on my journey down the TV coverage trail:

Here’s a long feature on the production of “Friday Night Lights.” I visited the set in Austin in Season 1 and wrote many stories about how they made the show and how that influenced the intimacy of its vibe. To this day, that long FNL feature is one of my favorite things I’ve ever gotten to do. All my FNL coverage is here. Texas Forever. 

All my “Lost” coverage is here (arranged in reverse chronology; you have to go back [SORRY] to find the first of my “Lost” pieces). I wrote about individual episodes later in the show’s run, and I did a number of interviews with Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse over the years, and during the “Lost” era, I also spoke to the show’s DPs, its composer and a few of the actors. The episodic “Lost” podcast I was part of during that time, “Orientation: Ryan Station,” can be found on various posts. Island Forever. 

Speaking of podcasts, “Talking TV with Ryan and Ryan” is over – if you ever listened, thank you. And you can still listen, if it’s new to you. It usually consisted of Ryan McGee and I blathering about whatever shows we were into (or not into) at that moment in time. Sometimes the podcasts contain interviews with actors and TV writers. (You can search the podcast’s site for show names.) This podcast (which is also on iTunes) may just be in your wheelhouse.

The drama that might be closest to my heart – and the show I’ve almost certainly written about more than any other – is “Battlestar Galactica.” All my coverage starts here (again, it’s in reverse chronology, so post-finale coverage comes first, then finale coverage, etc.). For “BSG’s” final run of episodes, I interviewed the writer of each episode and also offered my own thoughts; those posts are long but I so enjoyed doing them. Perhaps the most extensive post in that array of final-season coverage is an in-depth, post-finale interview with executive producer Ron Moore; that piece also contains my thoughts on the finale as well as comments from actors Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell. In late 2013, I interviewed Moore again, on the 10th anniversary of “BSG’s” debut, and you can find that conversation in both story and podcast form. Again, all of the “BSG” intel can be found around here (hit “back” to find earlier installments). I still miss Adama and Roslin and Saul damn Tigh. So say we all.  

Oakley Foster has done a great thing and collected episodic reviews and features on “Mad Men” from a number of critics, including me. It’s truly a useful roundup to have and I’m grateful for it. Season 7 link roundups are here, and links to previous season-by-season link collections are here. Thanks, Oakley. [Oakley let me know he’s also done a similar roundup of episodic and seasonal coverage of “Breaking Bad” by various critics. I can’t overstate how handy this is and how grateful I am for these resources!]

I wish I had one link for all my “Breaking Bad” coverage, but you’re probably best off going to my HPTV page or the Tribune site and searching by an episode’s time frame or just looking for the “Breaking Bad” label and poking around. But here are a few links to some pieces I wrote during the show’s home stretch. I’m still not over “Ozymandias.”

In addition to the ones names above, of course there are dozens of shows I want you to watch and catch up on and love. I don’t have time to list them all, but here are a few worth mentioning: I wrote quite a bit about Spartacus over the years – interviews and reviews and a “what to watch before you binge it on Netflixexplainer. If you think you’re too good for “Spartacus” and that “Spartacus” is something you should sneer at, think again. A more recent Starz offering that’s twisty fun: “Counterpart.” More swell fare from the last few years: Syfy’s “Wynonna Earp” makes me smile every damn time (and the first two seasons are on Netflix, woo!), “Peaky Blinders” and “Rectify” “Happy Valley” are also on Netflix, “You’re the Worst” is on Hulu, get into “The Americans” via Amazon for Lenin’s sake, “The Returned” is magnificently cry-inducing and weird, “Banshee” and “Strike Back” both had wobbly final seasons but were so worth watching before that, we’re in a laptop-comedy Golden Age for sure. Actually, comedy is so good in recent years that I wrote a big piece in 2016 about how half-hour shows are crushing it even more than drama. More raves! “Killjoys” is my sci-fi jam and “Killing Eve” is delightful, I am a megafan of “Jane the Virgin” and “Outlander’s” wedding episode broke my brain.” Oh, also, “Black-ish!” (And more “Black-ish”!)

Some of the shows listed above are a little bit obscure, but I watch and like a lot of popular dramas as well! Some of them are on my end-of-year Best TV lists. Here’s my 2016 Top 20 list (I ranked shows for the first time! Exciting! I did not rank programs on two other lists of very good shows from that year). Here’s my 2015 Top 20 list (which contains links to two other lists of very good shows from that year). Also, feel free to check out my 2014 Top TV list, my 2013 Top TV list and 2012 Top TV list, all of which you can treat as rosters full of viewing suggestions. Finally, follow me on Twitter if you want the full scope of my daily obsessions, enthusiasms and rants. (Spoiler: I post a lot of pictures of foxes.)

But wait, there’s more! Here are a few reported stories worth noting:

Representation of women and people of color as TV showrunners for the 2016-2017 broadcast network season and what those dire statistics mean for the pipeline of future TV creators.

Representation of women and people of color as TV directors: The amount of scripted TV has doubled in the past five years, but guess who is directing most of it? I bet you don’t have to guess. If you only read one or two sidebars from this story, make it the ACLU interview and/or the roundup of comments from TV directors.

[Addendum to the directors story: If you think real change is not possible when it comes to diversity and inclusion in the TV industry, think again. This story proves that significant improvements are indeed possible. Everyone in the TV industry should take note.]

Representation of women in writers’ rooms. Spoiler alert: The percentages are not great. (This story is a couple years old but … yeah. Still not great.)

Film world bonus! Check out the stats on the writers and directors of “Star Wars.” I love “Star Wars” a lot. Its writers and directors are almost all white guys.

Representation of women and people of color as creators at prestige-drama outlets. Spoiler alert: I’ll let Sisko take this one. [Four years later update: HBO has changed its ways – everyone in the TV industry should take note. I’m leaving Sisko in place because there’s much more work to be done.]

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