Delia Cai highlights some Kathryn VanArendonk …

Delia Cai highlights some Kathryn VanArendonk thoughts about criticism in which the latter posits two kinds of questions to ask. The work at hand is You, which I don’t watch, but I’ve stripped out the show-specific things to keep the observation general.

The first kind: Is it well-made? Does it deliver on the story the season had been building toward? Does it feel like a fitting conclusion for the previous nine episodes, are the performances good […] ? The second: Is [it] good? Beyond the storytelling and structural ideas, is it good for the world and for its viewers […] ?

This is almost verbatim how I used to describe what I thought good criticism was about. For whatever flaws Roger Ebert had, he used to do something similar on his show with Gene Siskel: he’d often explain if the thing was well-made and/or at least succeeded in what it sought to do (since even poorly-made movies technically can succeed in their goals), and he’d make a judgment on whether or not it was worth making.

I guess in a sense that’s three things—success on the work’s own terms and goals, quality of the work, and value of the work. Still, I wish more critics would function this way. Maybe they do, now, and I just don’t really read critics anymore.

Author: Bix

The unsupported use case of a mediocre, autistic midlife in St. Johns, Oregon —now with added global pandemic.