The arbitrary quantification of our lives has taken its next unnaturally forced step: popular movie review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes is now rating TV episodes on a week-by-week basis. It launched this week with the season premiere of the very-popular Game of Thrones.
As an actual practice serving consumer demand? It makes no sense. Unless visitors of the site are checking in to easily find all 28 reviews of the latest Game of Thrones episode, classifying a TV episode within its limited fresh/rotten scale makes no sense. TV is a medium that’s increasingly embracing serialized stories, where shows play out over long ongoing arcs versus episode-by-episode. The critical darlings of recent years — Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Game of Thrones — are all examples of serialized storytelling. Keeping this in mind, why would it matter if the show had a dud episode, according to Rotten Tomatoes’ aggregate score? Will that prevent someone from keeping up with Game of Thrones?
The feature is helpful if someone wants to seek out the lone dissenting opinion that’s preventing the most recent episode from attaining a coveted 100% fresh. It’s helpful if Rotten Tomatoes is aggregating reviews for a genuinely divisive episode of television (like Glee, or American Horror Story, perhaps).
But ultimately, it’s difficult for me to see this as anything more than a bid for page views. As TV has risen in popularity as a medium, so too has online TV criticism, reliably drawing in readers week-by-week. By aggregating reviews on an episode-by-episode basis (vs. a seasonal basis, which Rotten Tomatoes has already been doing), the site can accumulate reliable page views, and thereby reliably sell ad space, on a week-to-week basis.
So all I can say to Rotten Tomatoes is to keep on keeping on. You keep quantifying reviews into safe figures that measure the wide appeal of movies and TV vs. their actual worth. Winter is coming after all, and you gotta do what you gotta do.
Rife, K. (2014, April 8). Rotten Tomatoes to start rating TV episodes, starting with Game Of Thrones · Newswire · The A.V. Club. Retrieved from http://www.avclub.com/article/rotten-tomatoes-start-rating-tv-episodes-starting–203223