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The Late Great

One Last Late Great

A farewell and a request from Primetimer's Editor-in-Chief.
  • Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder (Screenshot: Justified)
    Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder (Screenshot: Justified)

    Seeing one of your favorite shows canceled much too soon is such a common occurrence that we at Primetimer dedicated a whole feature type to exploring short-lived series that cast long shadows over the medium — shows like Undeclared, Todd McFarlane’s Spawn, Ultraviolet, and Wonderfalls. The latest — and, as it turns out, final — edition revisited the sublime Lodge 49, which presented this world for what it is (mired in capitalism and war) while also envisioning what it could be.

    What’s also become an all-too-familiar experience is watching many of our favorite publications shuttered, hollowed out, or otherwise reduced to shells of their former selves. This contraction continues unabated; not a week goes by without news of another round of layoffs or some questionable pivot in editorial direction. Workers of all stripes in the entertainment industry can relate, as corporations prioritize profits above all else. When people say it’s a bad time to work in media, they mean for the people making the art and those writing about it.

    Today, it is my sad duty to inform you, our readers, that Primetimer is joining the ranks of sites that headed off into the good night. Our editorial operations will cease on June 28, 2024. Although no new stories will be published on the site after June 28, the site will remain online, and all previously published articles will remain available for your consumption. The Primetimer forums will continue to operate without interruption. The staffers have either accepted opportunities elsewhere, or will begin a role in a different part of the company.

    From its earliest days, Primetimer saw TV — and how to cover it — differently. The site was founded in 2018 as a refuge for both TV fans and journalists, who longed for the days before SEO became a mandate instead of a tool. It was a throwback to a simpler time on the web, when culture sites prioritized one thing above all else: great writing. Writers and editors like Aaron Barnhart, Norman Weiss, Joe Reid, Tara Ariano, Sarah D. Bunting, Mike Attebery, Andy Hunsaker, Alex Welch, and Jon Hein established Primetimer as a port in the algorithm-driven storm, producing smart TV criticism and reporting. The Primetimer forums, inherited from Previously.TV, remained a place for vibrant discussion. In 2022, former Primetimer Senior Editor Aaron Barnhart oversaw the publication of The Primetimer Guide to Streaming, a buoy in the sea of peak TV, with help from former Reviews Editor Mark Blankenship and our publisher Jed Rosenzweig.

    When I joined Primetimer as Editor-in-Chief in late 2022, I saw it as an opportunity to fortify this oasis, to keep it safe from churn by offering thought-provoking features, in-depth reviews, and incisive short-form articles, and, most important, to write with passion and purpose. If we wrote it well, I thought, they would come (readers, that is). Because Primetimer management was always more interested in pursuing sustainability than yearly gains, the staff had room to work on stories you wouldn’t find anywhere else online. When the discourse was overrun by Succession’s final season, sure, we chimed in, but we also took the time to highlight one of TV’s hidden gems. On Star Wars Day 2023, we sent The Other Two off in style. One of our first packages was a seven-part retrospective of HBO’s first 50 years of programming.

    Soon, I was collaborating with even more of my favorite writers, old and new, on features, trend pieces, responsive essays, interviews, smart rankings, and retrospectives that didn't simply look back, but sought out the bigger picture/context. We launched unique columns, including Platform Shift, in which Clayton Purdom explored the intersection of the internet and TV. With some help from a former colleague, Erik Adams, I kicked off Let’s Get Physical Media, an ultimately too-infrequent guide to building your physical media collection. There was, of course, The Late Great, and Hear Me Out, a repository for both our most lighthearted takes and our most passionate ones (Aidan Shaw, you’re never beating the allegations).

    The typical Primetimer story came to be one that shed new light on a well-worn topic, or that offered an entry point into a new (for some) territory. We knew we couldn’t simply publish the umpteenth recap of zeitgeist-y shows like The Last of Us. Even when we dabbled in superlatives, we never just effused over an episode or series. Primetimer staffers and contributors always understood that a true appreciation of TV means taking a warts-and-all approach — by noting even a beloved show’s shortcomings and seeing a flawed show for what it is, not what we want it to be.

    Though our time together was not nearly long enough, I am immensely proud of what we accomplished, and glad that every single one of these stories will remain online, waiting to be (re)discovered. Before I begin thanking everyone that had a role in making Primetimer home to some of the best TV writing, I want to share a final plea — a call to action, really — to everyone reading this. Please support independent media. Please read and share our stories. Please don’t ever hesitate to tell a writer how much you appreciate their work (and if you’re going to pass along criticism, make sure it’s constructive, as that will ensure the response is as well).

    I know it’s tough to wade through all of the clickbait, but it’s necessary to find the kind of trenchant writing I know you’re looking for, which is still available at sites like LateNighter (our sister site dedicated to late night TV), Pajiba, Reality Blurred, Paste, The A.V. Club, Bright Wall/Dark RoomLittle White Lies, Give Me My RemoteEbert Voices, Episodic Medium, and The Nerds of Color. I would go on even further, but I really have to get these thank-yous out! But, trust me, there is so much wonderful writing — about TV, music, film, books — online, waiting to be found! You’ll just have to do it without the help of Google.

    On my last day at Primetimer, I just want to thank everyone who made this such a special place. Thank you to our publisher/founder Jed Rosenzweig, for backing a vision in which TV criticism isn’t simply rubber-necking at search trends, and to Benjamin Curtis, for creating a robust CMS that houses all of this wonderful writing. Thank you to the Primetimer forums team for keeping the discussions going.

    Thank you to the Primetimer staffers I was lucky enough to work with: Aaron Barnhart, Mark Blankenship, and Joe Reid, who steered the site early on, establishing it as a haven for great writers. Thank you to Claire Spellberg Lustig, a dream collaborator who produced some of our most clear-eyed takes. Thank you to Brianna Wellen, who showed up brimming with love for this medium. Thank you to Dianna Shen, who made us all excited about the next generation of critics. Thank you to Kelly Martinez, who helped us see TV through the eyes of the new generation of critics. Thank you to Jade Bukowski, Deena ElGenaidi, and Kirstie Renae for your efforts to build a news section. This site wouldn’t have been possible without you. As for me, well, you haven’t seen the last of me.

    I’d also like to shout out all of our wonderful contributors by name, even if I didn’t have a chance to work with all of them. (Read their work wherever you can find it!) Thanks for everything:

    A.A. Dowd, Aimee Levitt, Alexi Chacon, Allison Lowe Huff, Amber Dowling, Amy Amatangelo, Andy Dehnart, Ani Bundel, Anthony Smith, Ashley Ray, Barry Mitchell, Bedatri D. Choudhury, Ben Rosenstock, Billy McEntee, Cameron Scheetz, Cecilia Johnson, Chinyere Osuji, Chris Feil, Christine Persaud, Clayton Purdom, Clint Worthington, Cole Kronman, Connor Simpson, Cristina Escobar, Deirdre Crimmins, Dennis Perkins, Devan Suber, Devin Fuller, Diep Tran, Emma Fraser, Erik Adams, Eve Batey, Gwen Ihnat, Hunter Ingram, Ian Carlos Crawford, Jarrod Jones, Jean Bentley, Jean-Maxime Renault, Jesse Hassenger, Jessica Liese, Jihane Bousfiha, Jill Hopkins, Joelle Monique, John Wenzel, Jonathan P. Higgins, Josh Spiegel, Josh Zyber, Jourdain Searles, Juan Barquin, Juan Michael Porter II, Kaitlin Stevens, Kaiya Shunyata, Kambole Campbell, Karen Belz, Katie Chow, Katie Rife, Kay-B, Kayleigh Donaldson, Kelly Kessler, Kevin O’Keeffe, Kim Reed, Klaudia Amenábar, Kurt Orzeck, Lane Moore, LaToya Ferguson, Laura Bogart, Laura Sirikul, Lauren Coates, Lauren Garafano, Lauren Piester, Leila Latif, Lissete E. Lanuza Saénz, Maggie Fremont, Mark Peikert, Marshall Shaffer, Mathew Rodriguez, Matthew Creith, Matthew St. Clair, Megan Vick, Michel Ghanem, Naomi Elias, Nick Rheinwald-Jones, Noel Murray, Oliver Sava, Olivia Truffaut-Wong, Omar Gallaga, Philiana Ng, Rafael Motamayor, Rafa Sales Ross, Rebecca Theodore-Vachon, Rendy Jones, Rosie Knight, Ryan McPhee, Samantha Nelson, Sam Barsanti, Sean Fitz-Gerald, Shannon Miller, Sophia Soto, Sophie Brookover, Sophie Kleeman, Stephen Hladik, Stephen Robinson, Sulagna Misra, Swara Salih, Tara Moses, Thomas J. West III, Trae DeLellis, Victoria Goldiee, Vikram Murthi, Whitney Friedlander, Whitney McIntosh, Zack Budryk

    And finally, thank you to our readers for making us a part of your lives. I hope we were able to enhance your TV viewing and your understanding of the broader medium through our writing. Until we meet again.

    Danette Chavez is the Editor-in-Chief of Primetimer and its biggest fan of puns.

    TOPICS: Primetimer