CliqueClack TV
Twitter Facebook RSS

What’s the big deal about TV Squad? – Monthly Musings

This week, TV Squad gasped its last breath. But, I care more about the larger trend. Why are the big guns whitewashing the snark out of shows/sites like ‘In Plain Sight’ and TV Squad?

Last night saw the final bits of TV Squad quietly ebb into the night. There were no pink slip ticker tape parades. No facebook statuses slowly switching to unemployed. And, no round the clock RSS/Twitter feeds. Instead, AOL quietly flipped the switch completing the transfer to AOL TV.

I know you wonder why we post about TV Squad, even though CliqueClack constitutes former TV Squad writers and readers. Honestly, I never worked for TV Squad so I don’t have the same connection as others. Although I switched to CliqueClack as a reader (when TV Squad’s original content decreased), I still checked in now and again. Despite working for Digital City, a former AOL Subsidiary way back in the ’90s, I didn’t really experience any Vietnam flashbacks during TV Squad’s culling. Sure, Digital City had a similar TV Squad history where AOL merged with Digital City’s competitor, fired all the freelancers, removed all the original Digital City content, renamed it AOL CityGuide and then killed the entire brand. But, I worked for Digital City in college, way before the deconstruction. So, I didn’t feel a sense of “Me Too” drama when TV Squad (slowly) disintegrated.

However, at 10:57 PM (EST) Tuesday night, when AOL effectively removed TV Squad from our digital memories (albeit not our human ones), I mourned its loss. TV Squad represented my idealistic pop culture childhood where I found a community inhabited by readers and writers who loved (and researched) TV as much as I did. Although I wrote for local papers and did Cultural Studies for graduate school, neither medium allowed me to fully explore my meta-referential television love. And, few sites offered TV Squad’s level of quality and passion in an established platform. Good sites existed (like Recapist), but they didn’t have TV Squad’s reach.

So, yea, I mourned what TV Squad represented when the last pixel switched over. Sure, the brain died a couple years/months ago (depending who you talk to), but the body continued … albeit on life support. But, last night, both passed on.

However, while I didn’t really commiserate when TV Squad  underwent the multiple phases, I realized I felt it even more last night because of a similar change in my formerly favorite TV show, In Plain Sight. As you might guess, I’m an opinionated woman (as most clackers can tell you). TV rarely shows strong, opinionated women without a side of sexy kitten. So, when In Plain Sight came around, I loved it, especially when they ironed the kinks. Wow. A woman telling people what she thinks directly without having to apologize, smile, or listen to the “b” word. Although I love chick flicks, most TV shows force the candy coated fun to saccharine levels (hello, Fairly Legal). So, I applauded USA for nurturing a show that featured a female lead different from other shows and different from its own genres. I enjoyed Mary’s dark nature. I applauded the showrunners for acknowledging that your screwed up childhood carries to adulthood.

Even though USA removed the original show runner and rumbled about changing the focus, I didn’t really care, because the main character and the show’s feel remained the same for me for seasons one through three. Although Covert Affairs and Fairly Legal didn’t prove my cup of tea, I didn’t care, because USA still had one show with an unabashedly strong female character that didn’t focus on her fashion sense and displayed her uglier emotions. Unfortunately, that changed this season. Although flashes of the old show remain, the brand new showrunners apparently embraced the new edict. However, happy endings and pageant teens just don’t match In Plain Sight’s emotional recesses.

So, I’m concerned about this pattern in American society. Both AOL and USA possessed two strong original properties which they encouraged. Both seemingly supported the communities that flocked to them. But, as AOL garnered more sites/readers and USA more network shows/viewers, they both eventually decided the original sites/shows they fostered, no longer belonged to their new identity. So, despite encouraging the snarkily honest yet realistic originality of these shows/sites when they didn’t have original content/tv, once they tasted success they decided realism couldn’t exist in their plush new worlds.

My biggest concern is that as we increasingly sanitize our views and shows, we’re left with an artificial society. Writing is supposed to take our world and augment it from various facets, not hide it. Jay talked about this earlier, but it didn’t hit me (or I just didn’t care) until this week. As long as my tiny social pockets existed, I could handle the various entertainment oriented sites or whitewashed chick shows. However, despite having communities that enjoyed both the glossy sites/TV shows and the snarky/ truthful ones, both AOL and USA have decided the two can’t co-exist and decided to excise the more truthful version. So, as our access to information increases but the content/shows portraying less cheerful reality decreases, where does that leave us?

Photo Credit: Clarita/Morguefile

Short URL:

Categories: | Columns | General | In Plain Sight | Monthly Musings | News | TV Shows |

19 Responses to “What’s the big deal about TV Squad? – Monthly Musings”

May 27, 2011 at 10:15 AM

TV Squad is a loss, but as you said, it was a loss at least a year or more ago when AOL began dumbing it down and removing all the personality. It turned into just one big promotional machine for whatever show (usually reality shows) it was hawking. I’m glad CliqueClack is still around. Please don’t sell out to AOL, Universal, or any other conglomerate.
As far as IPS goes, I’ve only been through the first 2 shows of the new season, but so far, I’m really not seeing your concerns. Mary is still narrating the start and end of each episode with her dark pretentious monologue of doom. She’s still hostile as all get-out to everyone, including Marshall. The show I just watched had Bradley Whitford going utterly nuts in paranoid fear over a Blackwater-type company whose boss was played by the fantastic John deLancie, leaving his teenage son basically to fend for himself the way Mary’s mom left her to take care of herself. I’m not seeing the lighter touch yet–but as I said, I’m a few shows behind.

May 27, 2011 at 12:05 PM

I also don’t see the huge change on IPS that An has seen. I actually found that Mary was annoying with her negativity in the first couple episodes.

She is becoming more accepting of her family, but I see that as good character growth. She is still the same old snarky Mary, but seems more aware of that about herself and trying to be a better person to her friends and family.

I’m enjoying the show this season and don’t see the huge shift that An and other others have seen.

May 27, 2011 at 7:53 PM

Carla, I might have to bequeath IPS unto you as Aryeh bequeathed onto me last year, if you’re interested.

I talked about this in my last IPS review, but USA fired the show’s creator when he wouldn’t make it lighter, and brought in McNamara. Although McNamara matured Mary, got rid of Rafe, and cleaned up her immediate family, the witness scenarios stayed pretty dark (i.e. the priest helping the stripper, the teens caught up in a car theft ring) and they all served to reveal more about Mary. Also, the emotional depth (through longer monologues), her break up with Rafe, and her relationship with Marshall all remained.

However, this year, everything seems more focused on going to an incredibly positive ending. Mary’s essentially the same, but the show, characters, and scenario around her have changed. We wouldn’t have spent 30 minutes watching Mary console a pageant teen that her parents took drugs. Also, while the parents ran from the law, the Yakuza probably would’ve shown up in a rather bloody fashion.

I liked part of the premiere, but part felt off. I felt the same with this last episode. So, we’ll see what happens –

May 30, 2011 at 1:25 AM

I’m interested to see what happens when the big twist happens, as you mentioned, that could change everything.

May 27, 2011 at 10:59 AM

It really is a pity what happened to TVSquad, it’s become more of an Entertainment Tonight rather than a blog about tv by people who really loved tv. They’re trying so hard to appeal to the masses and converge everything, when there really is little incremental cost to having two sites appealing to different niches instead of one site. They’re still operating using business models form 20 years ago that don’t necessarily hold true today.

Some of the recaps they of shows are still good, but now that I have to wade through pages of real housewives and jersey shore crap to get them, I find myself doing it less and less everyday.

May 27, 2011 at 4:43 PM

. . . . .


Observation: That looks a bit like a young Gilbert Gottfried in the photo above.

May 27, 2011 at 8:04 PM

You caught me, I am his secret love child and he bequeathed the photo to me as a child –

May 27, 2011 at 8:12 PM

. . . . . .


May 28, 2011 at 10:23 AM

Was very impressed they let Joel write that.

May 30, 2011 at 12:11 PM

Either they aren’t as soulless as we represent them
They figured why not then buried it 4 pages in with individual posts of clips from one episode of American Idol.

May 31, 2011 at 5:07 PM

“So, I’m concerned about this pattern in American society. Both AOL and USA possessed two strong original properties which they encouraged. Both seemingly supported the communities that flocked to them.”

Let me put it this way: 50 to 100% of comments to the posts on CC are from the authors and fellow authors. I know that it certainly was different on TV Squad but that was before the emphasis was put on posting 2 video snippets a day.

At the moment I kind of doubt that you have a “community” going here and if I take myself as an example then you could say that the Cliqueclack view of things is “a tad” entrenched.

Say about AOL what you want, I’d be willing to agree with everything, but to be honest there was a time on TV Squad when there were no Trolls, no two video-snipped posts a day and Oreo who kept telling the world how great 24 is. I don’t know if those were better times but they certainly were different than what became of TV Squad and most certainly different from what CC is right now.

May 31, 2011 at 5:23 PM

Every enterprise has to start somewhere. Why so sour?

May 31, 2011 at 6:13 PM

“Every enterprise has to start somewhere.”

CC started two and a half years ago.

And I’m not sour. All I do is point out the obvious, and I’ve been doing that since day one.

An writes “Both AOL and USA possessed two strong original properties which they encouraged. Both seemingly supported the communities that flocked to them.”

In the above mentioned 2.5 years I got told on numerous occasions that I am not a team player and that I am not playing nice. I had to defend myself for my views countless times and this year it seems that some of the author’s skins had gotten so thin that it turned out it was ok to start sneering at me, after (I guess) that had been going on for a while internally – because it’s ok to make fun of your audience I guess.

So exqueeze me for pointing out that it all kind of seems bigoted when you say that AOL alienated their readers. And that’s not directed at An. I’ve never been about the author in my comments but about the post and its content.

I mean look at that last sentence. Because people got so pissed off about me I have to litter my comments with disclaimers that basically read “I don’t hate you personally”.

Everything I ever wrote has been on topic. It has never been about the authors. Even the comments on Aryeh’s posts have ALWAYS been geared towards “WHY do you write THIS” and not “Why do YOU write this?” – in contrast to those two people who commented that CC should get rid of Aryeh when Keith asked what to change about the site.

In the end, we got comments that are nested more than 3 levels, and now CC Flicks (while Food seemingly died).

So basically CC just got re-tooled with the same set of authors and the same inner works (I guess. I’m not privy to internal matters).

But hey – maybe I was part of the problem. Maybe I as a commenter made the environment in the comments toxic for other people who might have commented if I simply kept my mouth shut. Coming back now after two months it seems that my place got taken by CC authors.

And guessing what question now leers in every reader’s mind: it’s not my place to offer suggestions how to do things “better”. That’s Keith’s decision.

All I know is that many of the authors from TV Squad are now here and we got fed up with each other and that a couple of articles are posted about TV Squad at the moment here. I think it’s fitting for me to leave my take on the whole situation.

And if you think that I’m sour then I think one has to ask who else is sour around here ^^;

May 31, 2011 at 6:54 PM

I know nothing of the sausage you speak of, but my heartfelt advice to you is to let it all go, forgive. What other choice is there? Keeping your hurt feelings and anger warm does nothing for you in the long run. It’s destructive.

Start over, let other people start over with you. We all fall short of glory. Peace.

May 31, 2011 at 7:32 PM


Next time somebody accuses me of insulting them I just “let it all go”.

Seriously, I just explained that I stopped commenting because I didn’t want to defend myself all the time, because people think that I am angry while I am not and your advice is not to be angry anymore.

I’m seriously not sure if I should laugh or cry right now :-)

May 31, 2011 at 7:59 PM


Sorry, I meant to be helpful.

Perhaps you think you are coming off as direct and honest, when other people feel your “honesty” as thrown knives….? I don’t know.

Everyone feels marginalized from time to time. Give people another chance :)

May 31, 2011 at 9:40 PM

I don’t think we have to make this about me. I’m fine with leaving everybody alone, because arguments in the end led to nothing because it was all about my way of bringing things up not the actual topic.

The question (here) is if CC learns from the TV Squad and AOL. Or “In Plain Sight” for that matter.

June 3, 2011 at 2:10 PM

I have noticed that TVSquad has gone downhill lately but was still a good place to catch up on current TV. I noticed when the banner changed to AOL TV and thought I’ll give it a try but after barely a week I’m finding it’s not even worth my time to check it out anymore. Maybe I’ll give this site a trial run….