Kathryn VanArendonk

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For 66 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 36% higher than the average critic
  • 9% same as the average critic
  • 55% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 1.5 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Kathryn VanArendonk's Scores

Average review score: 67
Highest review score: 100 Planet Earth II: Season 1
Lowest review score: 20 AJ and the Queen: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 42 out of 66
  2. Negative: 3 out of 66
66 tv reviews
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Kathryn VanArendonk
    There are eight half-hour episodes. Their scope is modest. The stories, which are sometimes delightful and sometimes tragic, are about relatively everyday lives. The show is beautiful.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 80 Kathryn VanArendonk
    It’s a special that works because Jones is so good at measuring the distance between where she was and where she is now. She’s especially good at pointing out the absurdity of both sides, the young and the old, without losing the underlying kernel of understanding.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 20 Kathryn VanArendonk
    The acting is not great. It is bad. ... Whatever its intention, AJ and the Queen is indeed awful. But it’s not good because of it.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 70 Kathryn VanArendonk
    It’s tough to say how to square the final episode’s ending with the truly lovely production that precedes it. Because regardless of what Sanditon does at the end, the first episodes are completely enjoyable, and as Charlotte says to a friend when the series comes to a close, “I do not regret the time I spent there.”
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Kathryn VanArendonk
    There’s so much care and craft in Sack Lunch Bunch. All the musical numbers work, and occasionally they’re breathtakingly good.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 80 Kathryn VanArendonk
    Wolf starts from a place she knows people will already recognize, and then has confidence in her supremely careful joke writing to pull the premise into a funny, newly interesting angle almost in spite of itself. Wolf identifies the trap and then almost always leaps over it. Sometimes she does it by presenting the most succinct, incisive version of some well-trodden territory.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 Kathryn VanArendonk
    The show’s world is more inclusive now, but in ways that can feel more about art direction (add some people of color!) than about a dramatically different worldview. Nonetheless, the first three episodes of Generation Q are enjoyable and set several promising arcs in motion, and by promising I mostly mean, “There’s definitely going to be some drama coming up.” Generation Q’s main first impression, though, is that it feels like fun, soapy, twisty, regular TV.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Kathryn VanArendonk
    The show seems aimed at fully self-aware meta humor, but it’s not quite sharp enough to pull off self-mockery, and at the same time, too loopingly referential to just be a straight remake.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 80 Kathryn VanArendonk
    A sweet, endearing wash of cuteness. It is also good. The special is tightly wound, carefully observed, well-shot, and snappy.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 60 Kathryn VanArendonk
    There [are] moments where For All Mankind lives up to the show it could be. And it could still become that show; even in the moments where I found myself annoyed by the lack of snap and fizz, I was still curious about where it was going. Its small tastes of an alternate timeline are intriguing.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 Kathryn VanArendonk
    His Dark Materials’ first episodes are a mixture of unabashedly gorgeous visuals, several strong performances, and writing that demonstrates time and again that it has no confidence in either of those things.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Kathryn VanArendonk
    She is too death-obsessed to fall into the trap of the blockheaded Badass Feminism in Hulu’s Handmaid’s Tale, and she’s too snide and whiny to be mistaken as a heroic figure. She is Emily Dickinson, messy and horny and smart and very, very fun to watch.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Kathryn VanArendonk
    The final leg of Slate’s stand-up does feel like a sum that’s doing its best to capitalize on all of the hour’s many parts; it’s a joke about the moon that’s even better for the time we’ve spent getting to know Slate behind the scenes. As for the rest of it, Stage Fright is a beautiful, personal hour. But I’m left wondering if I needed to know quite this much.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 70 Kathryn VanArendonk
    Looking for Alaska feels like a period piece that hasn’t fully reckoned with itself as a period piece, and some of its nostalgic impulses feel out of step with how brutally, gorgeously sad it is. It’s not a happy story, and the final episode swerves a bit too far in the direction of trying to make things feel all better. But for the most part, it’s the rare adaptation that dismantles the original in order to build something that works better.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Kathryn VanArendonk
    None of Gulman’s The Great Depresh should be funny. Except it really, really is. The Great Depresh is also sad and serious and dark, and it involves a few long periods in which Gulman sustains the thread of his story without reaching for moments of laughter.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Kathryn VanArendonk
    It’s a fast-moving, very funny show about a working-class family trying to make ends meet, featuring the voices of Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig, Jillian Bell, and Ike Barinholtz. The pilot episode is extraordinarily promising.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Kathryn VanArendonk
    Like almost every late-night show ever launched, it will need some time to settle into itself, but the first week suggests that Singh is charismatic and original enough to pull it off. ... The least impressive segments were the ones that felt most directly aimed at introducing Singh to the audience. ... Even better and more promising for Singh’s show in the long run is that within the first week she demonstrates that she’s a funny, fast, and magnetic interviewer.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 60 Kathryn VanArendonk
    There is a clear sense that several different pieces have been sewn together to create the end result, and they don’t always fit together as smoothly as they could. ... And when things don’t gel with a particular guest, they really just do not gel. When they do, though, Good Talk shifts from a strange and sometimes frustratingly messy talk show into something that looks more like two master fencers really enjoying a chance to spar.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 Kathryn VanArendonk
    I did not know about the story of Eli Cohen before watching The Spy, and so for that, I’m glad I did see it. I know more about history than I did before. I only wish The Spy had done a little more to shade in some subtle colors within its stark, blunt outline.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Kathryn VanArendonk
    The best part of the series is not that we recognize Homelander as a twisted, perverted Captain America knockoff. The best part is that we also immediately recognize the real-world corollary for Madelyn Stillwell, with her corporate greed, her desperation to keep this organization within her control, and her laser focus on public image.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Kathryn VanArendonk
    The best Veronica has been since its 2004 debut.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 40 Kathryn VanArendonk
    The trouble with the U.S. Love Island, at least so far, is that, in spite of all the pressure from unknowable producers who insert dramatic twists whenever they can, in spite of the inherent drama of being trapped together in a villa, and in spite of the most effective Love Island premise — which is that couples have to sleep in a bed together even though they barely know each other — nothing interesting happens. The betrayals are low-key.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Kathryn VanArendonk
    It’s intentionally full of contradictions, and Ansari has no interest in trying to resolve them. Right Now feels like a reckoning because it feels like an hour of Ansari, actively and sometimes futilely and often hilariously, attempting to wrestle with what it means to be an artist in the world right now. I’m not sure that it matters much that the result is a tangle of contradictions and generalizations and personal stories; the tangle is carefully choreographed, and the contradictions are intentional. This version of reckoning is less about answers, and more about the process of posing them.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 40 Kathryn VanArendonk
    In its first three episodes, City on a Hill doesn’t quite manage to sketch out the broad institutional framework that underpins a show like The Wire, and it also fails to make any of its primary characters especially endearing in a way that buys the show time for the rest of its mechanisms to click into place.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Kathryn VanArendonk
    There are a handful of scenes where the writing, acting, and gutsiness of the underlying story cohere into something raw and striking and well made. In other moments, though, Tales of the City feels like a rough draft, both bloated and aimless.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 30 Kathryn VanArendonk
    The three new episodes of Black Mirror are almost universally dumb. ... Season five is a mess, and nothing about it suggests that Black Mirror retains its original, unnerving insight into the ever-blurring borders between the digital and the human.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Kathryn VanArendonk
    Even though the major pieces are there — Aziraphale, Crowley, Satan, God, apocalypse — the minor bits aren’t magical enough on their own. It doesn’t quite pull together as a great, glorious, goofy Almighty plan. But it is still fun, and stylish, and it has enough of the book’s original quirky spark to feel worthwhile.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 60 Kathryn VanArendonk
    Sadly, I also came away from the first four episodes of The Spanish Princess with the sense that its hats have been crafted with more care than its characters. A few of them do spring to life with more persuasive detail than the others. ... Try as it might, it can’t help slipping back into the story we already know, and although the result is still entertaining, it’s also less original than I might’ve hoped.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 Kathryn VanArendonk
    As a whole first season, though, those pieces add up to something a little uncanny, a series that feels both highly considered and also weirdly underbaked.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 70 Kathryn VanArendonk
    On the whole ... the deliberately clashing elements of Gentleman Jack are the things that make it work.

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