I found Sepinwall’s blog some time around 2008 when I was Googling around, trying to find some reviews of Freaks and Geeks. His episode-by-episode recaps of all sixteen episodes of the one-season-wonder were exactly what I was looking for.
It wasn’t just F&G he covered, though. He wrote about a myriad of comedies and dramas, so I poked around the site and subscribed. His archives are a treasure trove — his episode reviews are light on the recap and heavy on the analysis without ever being heavy-handed.
Factor in his incredible response time (reviews very often go up the night the show airs, early the morning after at the latest), his excellent recall of what happened in previous episodes, and the sheer number of shows he covers, and Sepinwall’s recaps are something of a miracle for TV fans.
Alan’s television writing career began in college, before episode recaps were a widespread format. He posted NYPD Blue episode reviews on his college web site. After graduation, he got a job writing about TV for The Star-Ledger, a New Jersey newspaper.
Constrained by the format of newspaper writing, he started writing post-airing recaps on his blog, and gradually built a huge audience.
Sepinwall is widely credited for popularizing the post-episode review format, and remains the king of it (unless you consider the AV Club empire a single entity). A couple years ago, he moved from Blogger to HitFix where he continues to write. He also hosts a podcast with Dan Fienberg, another entertaining HitFix writer. Alan occasionally shares interesting bits of TV news or creator interviews, but episode recaps remain his bread and butter.
In 2012, he self-published a book called The Revolution Was Televised, recounting the stories of a bunch of great dramas that reshaped television. (It’s his second book, after a tribute he wrote to the first season of The OC.) Televised received a bunch of positive reviews and placement on end-of-year best lists. My wife bought it for me for Christmas last year, and I’ve read the chapters about the shows I’ve seen (don’t want to be spoiled!). It’s an excellent distillation of his analytical writing.
I enjoy Alan Sepinwall’s writing, and he’s pointed me towards shows I otherwise might have ignored (e.g. his influential admiration of Chuck), but I also admire his achievements as a self-starter. He’s a great example of someone finding success through good craft and honest hard work on his own bootstrapped projects. His entrepreneurial spirit has allowed him to accomplish some really things the way he’s wanted. It’s that ethic and attitude I like most about Alan Sepinwall’s career.
Alan’s on the short list of people I’d like to some day meet and maybe interview, and I frequently cite him as one of the influences for setting up this site with Grant four years ago.
If you’re a TV fan who keeps up with currently-airing shows, I definitely suggest you check out Alan’s blog on HitFix (named, like his old blog, after a 1989 failed CBS pilot with an Eddie Murphy appearance).
Dayenu, Alan, for your great TV writing.