Television Without Pity

One of the cornerstones of Postmodernist thinking is the idea that experience or participation trumps learned expertise in most matters. Pomos trust friends with experience (or friends of friends with experience) over those whose knowledge comes from a book or a pedestal. This is played out many ways in our culture today, usually accompanied by some form of grand anti-hierarchical energy.

And, as I’ve often written, the Internet is playing a huge role in all this by offering a place where these experiences can be shared. Citizens are empowering each other through shared knowledge, and this sharing is often done in most clever and entertaining ways.

For the television lover, one example is a neat — and not so little — Web address called Television Without Pity. Thanks to this site, you don’t necessarily have to WATCH every show to keep up with your friends.

It’s kind of a Cliffs Notes for television programming, a place that’ll get you caught up with what you’ve missed or prepare you for the next episode. I love the hip attitude, which is summed up in their slogan, “At Television Without Pity, we watch so you don’t have to.”

Maybe you’ve missed an episode of your favorite show, and you want to get the plot lowdown. Maybe you want to discuss a character’s unfortunate new hairstyle, or dish behind-the-scenes dirt, with other viewers. Maybe you just want to sit back and laugh as the train-wreck writing and flagrant inconsistencies of mediocre shows are torn to ribbons.
The site’s “recaplets” tilt towards younger viewers and their preferences, but the site looks at a variety of programs including The Sopranos and The West Wing, cult classics like My So-Called Life and Twin Peaks, and all manner of TV movies, mini-series, award shows, and specials.

Let’s say your friends are all talking about Desperate Housewives, and you feel like an outcast because, well, you just haven’t had the time to watch. A quick trip to TWoP will fix that. And what happens on those awful nights when the TiVo doesn’t work, and you’ve missed The Apprentice? Or you’re getting ready for work and you need something to make you appear “with it” at the office. Drop by the discussion boards at TWoP and get caught up on the latest buzz about Veronica Mars.

Fun stuff — AND — the front page content is wisely RSS-enabled.

David T. Cole, one of the principals and also known as “Glark,” tells me it’s been a lot of work and a bit of a struggle for the past few years, but they expect to turn the site into the black after the first of the year. That’s great, because this is a place that needs to prosper.

It is definitively a labour of love but it’s also a very expensive site to run because it’s very popular (we’re probably going to hit 1 million unique visitors per month before May sweeps) and we pay all our writers for their hard work. The site is run with money from merchandise sales and support from Yahoo TV. We have — in the past — come very close to having to shut down but have been able to pull out of danger thanks to our users who responded to various fund drives (all this before we hooked up with Yahoo of course) and our ability to live on ramen noodles.
This is a dynamic community with a unique product that I suspect will be around for a long time.

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