"Game of Thrones was really the last of its kind for awhile, but recently—with mystery series in particular—we’re finally seeing a small but encouraging revival of theory culture," says Allison Keene. "There are some reading this who will remember the heyday of True Detective Season 1, rushing to Reddit to read intricate theories and pick apart Lovecraftian references. These forums on social media have continued to exist for plenty of things, particularly true crime, but less so for most television—until recently. WandaVision on Disney+ played into that guessing-game zeitgeist, where viewers theorized what TV era the show would pay homage to next, or what it meant when X character showed up or Y powers manifested. But a lot of that was still tied up with a more toxic superhero fan subculture that is obsessed with comic connections in ways that casual viewers aren’t, and who get disappointed (or extremely Angry Online) when things don’t play out as predicted. But there is a side to theory culture that isn’t as toxic, and it came to us as a one-two gift from HBO and Freeform over the past few weeks: Mare of Easttown and Cruel Summer. Both are short mystery series that wanted viewers to theorize alongside them, although they did so in different ways. Mare is extremely character-driven, Cruel Summer is more about the plot twists. But both reignited a desire for appointment television in a way few others have managed. These are the only two shows where I’ve gotten texts, DMs, Reddit messages, and Slack chats about “Have you seen….?” “What did you think about….?” Cruel Summer is a series where I again rush to Reddit each week to read theories and laugh at memes about our collective obsession with the show’s storytelling. Before the finale of Mare, my boyfriend and I sat for over an hour hashing out our theories of who killed Erin, bringing up various minutia that bolstered or deflated our ideas. It’s honestly been a blast."