Where do you go if you want to talk about TV?
The question is neither rhetorical or philosophical. It’s not a rumination on socialization in 2020, and it definitely isn’t an opening salvo in a conversation bemoaning the perceived death of water-cooler television. It’s a completely practical query: Where can serious fans of TV go to converse with other like-minded people?
For film fans, the answer is relatively clear: Letterboxd. Founded in 2011, the social networking site allows users to not just track and review films, but to seek out like-minded cinephiles and expand their film horizons in a community focused entirely on celebrating their shared passion.
For readers, the answer is resounding: Goodreads. Founded in 2006, Goodreads is a social cataloging site that again allows users to write their own reviews of books they’ve read before connecting with fellow bibliophiles. In 2013, the site was purchased by Amazon and, in the seven years since, engagement has exploded with 90 millions users as of July 2019.
But when it comes to TV, there’s no simple answer, a reality driven home by the fact that the best reviewed film on Letterboxd for 2020 is a TV series. (No disrespect to “Emicida: AmarElo – It’s All for Yesterday,” which technically holds a 0.09 advantage in average rating, but we’re sorting by a minimum number of votes.)
Michaela Coel’s transcendent limited series “I May Destroy You” deserves every accolade it can get but it is not, in point of fact, a film. A loophole in the Letterboxd system is the inclusion of some limited series and, in truth, other select series including regular TV shows as helmed by certain auteur directors, including Luca Guadagnino’s “We Are Who We Are,” as well as Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Young Pope” and “The New Pope.”
But it’s not just limited series from auteurs topping the ranks at Letterboxd. Besides “I May Destroy You,” Lenny Abrahamson’s “Normal People” and Scott Frank’s “The Queen’s Gambit” are both roundly hailed as being amongst the best of the year, alongside a single episode of Sam Levinson’s “Euphoria” and, uh, the improvised comedy specials that comprise “Middleditch and Schwartz.”
While there are certain people who will tout services like Trakt, which auto-tracks your TV and movie-watching habits, or TV Time, where the user interface makes for near-impossible conversation and interaction and that is anxious for you to log your feelings via emoticon after each episode, there’s nothing for telephiles that even approaches the functionality, aesthetics, and cultural cachet of Letterboxd.
It’s a small, but significant thing. Another subtle indicator of the differences between how film and TV are perceived within a system in which the former is considered elite and the latter commonplace. Divides like this keep those misconceptions soundly in place and in the meantime, fans of TV are forced to seek like-minded people on show-specific subreddits, fan-driven Tumblrs, and — God forbid — Twitter.
Crafting a space for people to come together and celebrate the best in television is a worthwhile goal and one desperately needed in a culture where shows like “I May Destroy You” and “Better Things” and “Euphoria” could too easily go unnoticed for lack of a dedicated place to proselytize for them.
For more on the desperate need for a place to have elevated discussions amongst passionate TV fans, check out this week’s episode of IndieWire’s TV podcast “Millions of Screens” as hosts Deputy TV Editor Ben Travers, Creative Producer Leo Garcia, and TV Awards Editor Libby Hill talk about the Letterboxd TV situation.
Stay tuned as the entire gang picks apart the complaints laid out in Denis Villeneuve’s HBO Max/Warner Bros. letter, as well as speculating about what 10 Marvel series and 10 Star Wars series means for the future of Disney+. Also, the crew will dig into the upsetting news that Tim Cook reportedly personally pulled the plug on the Gawker-inspired series by friend of the pod Cord Jefferson.
“Millions of Screens” is available on Anchor, Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher. You can subscribe here or via RSS. Share your feedback with the crew on Twitter or sound off in the comments. Review the show on iTunes and be sure to let us know if you’d like to hear the gang address specific issues in upcoming editions of “Millions of Screens.” Check out the rest of IndieWire’s podcasts on iTunes right here.
This episode of “Millions of Screens” was produced by Leonardo Adrian Garcia.