"I'm definitely seeing a lot less bad TV than I used to see bad movies when I was a film critic"
Andrew Johnston is the television critic for Time Out New York as well as the editor of the magazine's TV, DVD, and gaming coverage. He was previously a film critic at Time Out New York and at Us Weekly.
Sars: What would you say is the biggest misconception about your job as a TV critic or a TV writer?
Johnston: I would say the biggest misconception is definitely, you know, half the time I tell people what I do for a living and it's like, "Oh, you just get paid to watch TV!" and there's really a lot lot more to it than just watching TV. I'm in a different position than many, I suppose, because I'm both a writer and an editor; I'm an editor in terms of assigning and stuff, anyway, and I have a lot more responsibility -- which is everything from making sure things get copy-edited, to making sure we get the right artwork for everything, all that stuff -- than would happen at a lot of other magazines. Time Out, they keep a pretty tight staff; at some other magazines I'd probably have an assistant. The biggest misconception is that the job is just watching TV, because there's so much more involved, especially if, as in my case, you're an editor as well as a writer.
Sars: Would you prefer it if you were just writing about TV and watching TV all day, or do you like that variety?
Johnston: The great thing about being an editor is that I feel like I watch a lot less garbage than I had to when I was a film critic for many years. Before, I was working for Time Out as a film critic in the late '90s, and the mandate then, as it is today, was to review every movie released commercially in New York. And the signal-to-noise ratio there is just massive -- there's just so many bad movies that get released commercially in New York every year, whereas Time Out has so comparatively little space devoted to television, and there's so many orders of magnitude more of programming, no way in a zillion jillion years can you cover all of it, so I get to be a lot more selective, and I certainly watch a lot of stuff I think is pure crap, but I'm definitely seeing a lot less bad TV than I used to see bad movies when I was a film critic who was seeing about 200 new movies a year.
Sars: What's the TV show that you endorsed that you look back now and you're like, "Eccchh, I can't believe I threw my weight behind that one"? Any reviews that make you cringe?