Thursday, March 27, 2014

Now Where Will We Go To Mock Pretty Little Liars?: An Obit For Television Without Pity

The biggest water cooler on the internet, Television Without Pity, will be closing down for good at the end of May, just after the end of the current TV season. It was originally announced this morning on Re/Code, then confirmed by this tweet:

TWOP will cease operations on April 4, but our forums will remain open till May 31. To our fans: Thank you for your support over the years.
Ironically, the reason for the closing of TWoP is what kills any TV show...a declining internet audience. The site has been owned by Bravo and NBC Universal since 2007, but it wasn't generating enough revenue.

This will be bad news for people who were looking forward to mocking the summer TV season, and the second half of Game of Thrones' fourth season..and that's just for starters. While Twitter has become the social media center of choice when it comes to talking about shows as they're happening, TWoP was a valuable tool for people who wanted to rant about TV and movies without being limited to 140 characters.

The site originally started in 1997 to mock Dawson's Creek. Back then, it was called Dawson's Wrap. About a year later, it changed into Mighty Big TV, where people could also mock Felicity and her goofy hair. If only they knew who'd she would eventually become...right, comrade?

Anyway, it soon took on other shows, and genres for that matter. Today, hundreds of shows have been discussed, dissected, mocked, defended and praised in the TWoP forums, under the watchful eye of the classic logo, Tubey. It even had its own "awards" that seemed to be more savvy than the Oscars, Emmys and Grammys combined.

When the original WB Bronze was on its last legs because it was handing off Buffy to the channel formerly known as UPN, I turned to TWoP as my go-to place to talk about TV shows. It discussed shows and handled discussions the way the Original Bronze did.  It was a great place to discuss television and movies.
I haven't gone there as much as I had ten or 12 years ago, but I still went there to see what people thought of Believe, Person of Interest, and even wrestling. It was also the best place to find recaps to shows I don't usually watch, but have some interest. It's kind of like the Cliff's Notes of watching TV.

So did Twitter and tv tag kill TWoP? Did people think live-tweeting was better than going into extensive details about how the story line is getting worse for Once Upon a Time? If so, that is a shame. TWoP was a great place to debate the quality of TV shows and movies. Trying to debate with someone by Twitter can get really difficult after a while.

So where will those who visited TWoP go? They might head to forums connected with one show, or maybe the ones already prepared by the networks themselves.

Already, the site is becoming nostalgic. The home page is showing links to its past recaps of Veronica Mars, Sports Night, The Sopranos, 24, and the show that started it all, Dawson's Creek. It's expected that links to past recaps of Buffy, Angel, Breaking Bad, Gilmore Girls, Lost and Arrested Development will be coming soon.

The only forum least for one for TWoP regulars meeting for one last goodbye, and recalling their favorite snarking moments. Maybe one will be set up in time for the final hours, just like people gave their last goodbyes to the WB Bronze back in 2001.

It's best to end this with this statement from TWOP Pembleton, whose announcement was called "So long, and Thanks For All The Fish"..which seems appropriate: will cease all editorial operations on April 4 and the site will be taken offline.
However, the forums will remain open until May 31 to continue to provide our members with a place to debate, discuss and deride all the shows we love and love to hate. 
Obviously, we are all sad about this, but we are keeping the forums open for a grace period so that you can contact your fellow posters and perhaps find new places to continue your conversations. There may be some technical glitches going forward as most of the site is shut down, and we ask for your patience as we figure things out.
To our readers, posters, and forum members: Thank you for your support over the years.

We'll miss you Television Without Pity, and you, too Tubey.
At the very least, James Van Der Beek should give a eulogy in the virtual funeral.
Afterwards, we'll all be looking for a new online water cooler to gather and snark.


Marsia said...

When NBC bought TWP I told friends that one day it would be shut down and it's history lost to the fans who wrote there. I had seen it before when WB shut down the night the last episode aired there (before moving to UPN). No warning to the fans, all the history gone. Even though I didn't post there, I knew I would never put my primary posts on a studio-run sit. SciFi/SyFy did similar to Farscape.
What genius at NBC thought to even buy the site? Why would fans who snarked about the series do so on a studio owned site? Dumb business idea.

David Mello said...

Actually, that occurred to me as I wrote this blog. I thought NBC Universal didn't want web sites that made fun of them. That's kind of like SyFy dumping MST3k because it was afraid it would mock its original movies. However, I thought that would have been a conspiracy theory that would go out of control. The reason is that people would rather snark through live-tweeting rather than in internet forums.