If Television Without Pity had never existed, the internet would be a very different place — but it's also hard to imagine that soon, we won't be able to delve into TWoP's copious archives of television recaps and insanely detailed snarkery. Television Without Pity is closing down on April 4, and many voices are being silenced.
According to Re/Code, not only will TWoP shut down, but its archives will be preserved digitally but not available to the public. This is such a dreadful waste, and a counter-example to the popular wisdom that says everything is on the internet forever.
Television Without Pity didn't just pioneer a way of talking about television in a more lively, irreverent fashion — it also showed all of us how we could become more active consumers of entertainment, converting passive viewing into active discussion, argument, creativity and mockery. It was like TV criticism's version of fanfic. Before there were GIFs and memes and TVTropes, there was TWoP, giving characters weird nicknames and making extended running jokes out of beloved shows.
Television Without Pity didn't just show me how to write about television — it showed me how to watch television, after a long period when I didn't own a TV set. The prospect of TV-watching being a communal, joyful, sarcastic experience instead of an empty "couch potato" thing helped bring me back to the medium. And the knowledge that dumb plot holes and weird character arcs would be mocked on TWoP probably helped make a lot of TV shows better, too.
We'll miss Television Without Pity — but the site's legacy lives on forever, all over the internet. There's a great roundup of tweets by TV critics and writers who loved the site, over at The Wire.