The A.V. Club is an entertainment website featuring reviews of films, music, television, books, games and DVDs, as well as interviews and other regular offerings examining both new and classic media and other elements of pop culture. The A.V. Club was initially created in 1993 as a supplemental part of The Onion and had a minimal presence on The Onion’s website in its early years, but in 2005—during a website redesign—its online identity grew and matured in ways that allowed it to have an identity all of its own. Unlike its parent publication, The A.V. Club is not satirical.
In 1993, five years after the founding of The Onion at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, UW student Stephen Thompson launched an entertainment section, later renamed The A.V. Club as part of the newspaper's 1995 redesign. While the section was initially viewed as an afterthought to the publication's flagship fake news stories, Thompson credited it as becoming "very important" in allowing The Onion to expand distribution nationwide, as it was easier to sell advertising next to movie reviews and concert listings than satirical news items.
Both The Onion and The A.V. Club made their Internet debut in 1996, although not all print features were immediately available online. The A.V. Club website was redesigned in 2005 to incorporate blogs and reader comments. In 2006, concurrent with another redesign, the site shifted its model to begin adding content on a daily rather than weekly basis.
In December 2004, Stephen Thompson left his position as founding editor of The A.V. Club.
According to then Onion president Sean Mills, the A.V. Club website received more than 1 million unique visitors for the first time in October 2007. In late 2009, the site was reported as receiving over 1.4 million unique visitors and 75,000 comments per month.
On December 9, 2010, it was discovered that a capsule review for the book Genius, Isolated: The Life And Art Of Alex Toth had been fabricated; the book had not yet been published or even completed by the authors. The offending review was removed from The A.V. Club, and editor Keith Phipps posted an apology on the site. The author of the review was terminated from their freelance role with The A.V. Club.
At its peak the printed version of The A.V. Club was available in 17 different cities. Localized sections of the website were also maintained with reviews and news relevant to specific cities. The print version and localized websites were gradually discontinued alongside the print version of The Onion and, in December 2013, publication ceased in the final three markets.
2012–14 senior staff departures
On December 13, 2012, long-time writer and editor Keith Phipps, who oversaw the development of the site for eight years after Stephen Thompson left, stepped down from his role as editor of The A.V. Club stating, "Onion Inc. and I have come to a mutual parting of the ways."
On April 2, 2013, longtime film editor and critic Scott Tobias stepped down from his role as film editor of The A.V. Club stating, "After 15 great years @theavclub, I step down as Film Editor next Friday."
On April 26, 2013, it was announced that longtime writers Nathan Rabin, Tasha Robinson and Genevieve Koski would also be leaving the site to begin work on a new project alongside Scott Tobias and Keith Phipps, with Genevieve Koski stating on her Twitter that she would continue to write freelance articles. In the comments section of the article announcing the departures, writer Noel Murray also announced he would also be joining their project but would continue to contribute to The A.V. Club in a reduced capacity. On May 30, 2013, it was announced that the six writers would be a part of the senior staff of The Dissolve, a film website run by Pitchfork Media.
In 2014, senior staff writers Kyle Ryan, Sonia Saraiya, and Todd VanDerWerff left the site for positions at Entertainment Weekly, Salon and Vox Media, respectively. In 2015, Ryan returned to Onion Inc. in a new position. Nathan Rabin also returned to write freelance for the site in May 2015, including the resumption of his regular "My World of Flops" column, following his departure from The Dissolve earlier that month. The Dissolve itself folded in July 2015.
- 11 Questions, an interview series in which each participant is asked the same 11 interview prompts, along with a 12th question that was created by the previous interviewee.
- 100 Episodes, a look back on the syndicated TV series that made it to 100 or more episodes discussing their inception, their rise to popularity, and their legacy
- A.V. Undercover, a video series featuring bands covering songs in the A.V. Club office.
- AVQ&A, a forum where staff members offer opinions and personal anecdotes in response to a weekly pop culture-related question.
- Comics Panel, monthly (formally bi-weekly) reviews of comic books.
- Expert Witness, an extended interview or oral history with individuals who were either participants in a particular event or are industry insiders in a particular field. Past interviews have included game show participants, employees of the Columbia House mail-order music service and American Idol winner David Cook.
- Great Job, Internet!, a news strand devoted to interesting websites, articles or Youtube videos.
- HateSong, An interview series in which a guest discusses a song they personally dislike
- Inventory, a list of examples from a pop culture-related theme, such as "15 True Comeback Albums" or "24 Great Films Too Painful To Watch Twice"
- One-Season Wonders, Weirdos, And Wannabes, a series focusing on television shows that lasted only one season.
- Memory Wipe, a series examining the popular culture of the 1980s and 1990s.
- My Year of Flops and My World of Flops, reviews of box-office, television, and literary bombs by Nathan Rabin
- Newswire, blog-style reporting of pop culture news items
- Podmass, a review of podcasts from the past week; published every Monday
- Primer and Gateways to Geekery, in-depth retrospective series intended to introduce readers to a popular culture subject, such as the films of Akira Kurosawa, 1970's television sitcoms, and the discography of The Fall. Gateways to Geekery articles are usually shorter than Primer installments, but were published more frequently. Gateways to Geekery was discontinued in July 2014, but installments of the longer Primer series have continued to be published.
- Pop Pilgrims, travel video series related to famous film, TV, and literary locations.
- Popcorn Politics a video series on the political messages in movies.
- Random Reads, an interview focusing on several works from an author's career
- Random Roles, an interview focusing on several selected roles from an actor's career
- Savage Love, a syndicated sex advice column by Dan Savage
- Scenic Routes, Mike D'Angelo looks at key movie scenes, explaining their meaning and importance.
- Taste Test, reports and reviews of unusual foodstuffs
- T.V. Club, episode-by-episode reviews of a wide variety of both current and classic TV shows
- We're #1, an in-depth essay series on the subject of albums and songs that reached number one on various worldwide charts, with a focus on the Billboard 200 album chart and Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
- Wiki Wormhole, an examination of unusual Wikipedia articles
- A.V. Club Crossword, edited by Ben Tausig
- Cheap Toy Roundup, An annual feature showcasing cheap, poorly made, dollar-store toys.
- Commentary Tracks of the Damned, a feature reviewing DVD audio commentaries of films that were not particularly successful.
- Films That Time Forgot, an examination of B movies
- Games of Our Lives, a weekly column written by actor Wil Wheaton about retro video games which ran in 2005 and 2006.
- The Hater, a column by Amelie Gillette focusing on pop culture and celebrity news, and its offshoot The Tolerability Index, a weekly infographic. The Hater was put on hiatus in May 2010 after Gillette left The A.V. Club to become a writer for the TV series The Office. Gillette continued to write The Tolerability Index for the site until April 2016.
- My Favorite Music Year, a series where various writers try to answer the question: What year in music means the most to you.
- Money Matters, a set of interviews conducted by Nathan Rabin with individuals who had to overcome financial setbacks after having early success in entertainment.
- Random Rules, an interview asking a celebrity to account for random tracks on his or her personal MP3 player
- Red Meat, a syndicated comic strip by Max Cannon
- Sawbuck Gamer, a column highlighting inexpensive games.
- The New Cult Canon, a series by Scott Tobias examining movies from the 1990s and the 2000s that have attained cult status.
- Then That's What They Called Music, a series by Nathan Rabin chronicling pop music's evolution through the CD series Now That's What I Call Music!
- TV Outland, an analysis of unusual television networks.
- Wrapped Up in Books, a monthly book club for AV Club readers which included analysis articles and live discussions on the book with the A.V. Club staff. Named for the song by "Wrapped Up in Books" by Belle & Sebastian. Discontinued in 2011.
The formerly available print version included subsections containing local content such as event previews and dining guides and comics such as Postage Stamp Comics by Shannon Wheeler and Wondermark by David Malki.
In 2002, The A.V. Club released a collection of 68 interviews that had been featured in previous issues, entitled The Tenacity Of The Cockroach: Conversations With Entertainment's Most Enduring Outsiders (2002, ISBN 1-4000-4724-2).
On 13 October 2009, the second A.V. Club book, Inventory: 16 Films Featuring Manic Pixie Dream Girls, 10 Great Songs Nearly Ruined by Saxophone, and 100 More Obsessively Specific Pop-Culture Lists (2009, ISBN 1-4165-9473-6) was released, featuring a combination of never-before-published lists and material already available on the AV Club website.
The A.V. Club released My Year of Flops: The A.V. Club Presents One Man's Journey Deep into the Heart of Cinematic Failure (2010, ISBN 1-4391-5312-4) on 19 October 2010. The book consists of entries taken from the site's recurring My Year of Flops column along with new material not previously available. It is the first A.V. Club release credited to a single author, Nathan Rabin.
A.V. Club year-end lists
The A.V. Club began publishing website consensus year-end album and film lists beginning in 2006. Before that year (starting in 1999), only individual writers' lists were published. Lists for individual writers continue to be published alongside the website consensus list. Yearly best-of lists for television began in 2010.
Album of the Year
Film of the Year
Television Show of the Year
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