Writing recaps and weekly commentary for television shows requires equal parts humor, compassion, insight, sarcasm, and truth. Strike a balance between these elements, write with conviction and authority, know your show inside and out, and you could find yourself among elite company as a commentary writer.
The point of being a recap artist for a television show is to generate repeat readership. Fans of television shows are anxious to engage with other fans and are hungry for any articles, blogs, and other commentary. Creating that type of writing starts with an active, authoritative voice.
Great writing will always find a home, and one of the best places to read some truly exceptional words is in the world of television recap and episode commentary. Here are the best recap writers, whose recaps are consistently on par if not better than the show itself:
Sydney Levin: Teen Mom 2
Posted within minutes of the end of each episode, Sydney Levin has turned her weekly recap of Teen Mom 2 into a must-read post-episode experience for the true fans, spectators, and self-proclaimed elitists that probably don’t spend an hour of their week watching the MTV hit show.
Her weekly recap is hilarious and insightful, and with a skilled hand Levin blends the two with ease. A quick stroll through the comments section of her Huffpost TV blog punctuates the fact that fans of the show, and fans of Levin’s recaps, love the humorous tone.
Levin sets the tone of her recaps as the arbitrator of what is and what is not important on Teen Mom 2. She rolls the dice with her worlds and takes some big risks when she speaks matter-of-factly about the girls on the show, including an honest accounting of their flaws and shortcomings. It’s the risk-taking that establishes Levin’s authority with her readers, and serves to separate her exquisite recaps from the rest of the pack.
Note: Sydney Levin is on a short hiatus. She will return in June to recap The Real Housewives of New Jersey.
Have an Opinion
Jessica Zaleski: Glee
Have you ever read a show recap that was so “vanilla,” so unbiased, that it left you wondering if it was written by someone connected to the show, or perhaps by a writer who was afraid to voice their opinion? A quick fix for that can be found in Jessica Zaleski’s recaps of Glee
Zaleski has been recapping Glee long enough to have watched it deteriorate from an excellent show with great stories to a shell of its former glory, and she makes no bones about it. She is not afraid to say something wasn’t funny and the stories have become preposterous.
Levin’s honest-if-unvarnished opinions are what make her weekly recaps absolutely indispensible, and at present far superior to the show itself. It’s clear she’s recapping a show she once loved, but no longer holds it in such high esteem. She uses that as motivation to lampoon—when appropriate—the things she finds so silly about the present iteration of the show.
Her recaps, aided in large part because she’s not afraid to have an opinion, are what keeps her readers coming back for more, week in and week out.
Be a Real Fan
Danielle Henderson: Real Housewives of Atlanta
Does unscripted, wig-snatching, wealth-flaunting debauchery really require a recap? When written by Danielle Henderson, yes it does.
Fans of reality shows are opinionated and fiercely passionate about their particular shows, which is why Henderson writes from a real fan’s perspective. Her recaps are filled with honest words—often hilarious and scathing—and resonate with fans that can’t wait to read her blog both before and after each episode.
She captures the essence of RHoA by telling the truth with an active voice. Just like the show itself, her words have punch, are full of passion, and even have an element of danger. Her concise use of action verbs and strong modifiers captures the mood of the moment, which can only come from a true fan.
In short, Danielle Henderson doesn’t cheat fans of Real Housewives of Atlanta because she digs deep into the human psyche and puts it all out there for everyone to read and enjoy.
Note: Real Housewives of Atlanta has wrapped season five. Danielle Henderson is still writing for Vulture and is presently recapping Scandal for them.
Sometimes show recaps are better than the actual show, or lend such an incredible post-show voice as to be considered indispensible by fans and readers alike. Sydney Levin, Jessica Zaleski, and Danielle Henderson are three of the best in the business. What show recaps do you wait for with bated breath?
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