Journalism / Media & Technology

In defense of recaps

David Simon demonstrated a pretty fundamental misunderstanding of the narrative form in which he operates when he came out against the now-ubiquitous phenomenon of weekly TV recapping. Simon argues about recappers, “They don’t know what we’re building. And by the way, that’s true for the people who say we’re great. They don’t know. It doesn’t matter whether they love it or they hate it. It doesn’t mean anything until there’s a beginning, middle and an end.” He is, simply, wrong. TV is a serial medium, and it makes perfect sense to respond to shows on a serial and ongoing basis. Sure, the best shows have carefully thought-out dramatic arcs (which recappers follow more closely than anyone else), but those arcs are made up of individual episodes that the viewer, at least at first, can only watch one at a time. Over the course of a single season, let alone four or five, a show can change in any number of ways: it can get cancelled, actors can quit or die, or viewers can get bored and stop watching. Simon’s complaint, aside from its needless jab at his most dedicated fans, showed a surprising obtuseness about the genre in which he works.

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