Eric Deggans

Eric Deggans is NPR's first full-time TV critic.

Deggans came to NPR in 2013 from the Tampa Bay Times, where he served a TV/Media Critic and in other roles for nearly 20 years. A journalist for more than 20 years, he is also the author of Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation, a look at how prejudice, racism and sexism fuels some elements of modern media, published in October 2012, by Palgrave Macmillan.

In August 2013, Deggans guest hosted CNN's media analysis show Reliable Sources, joining a select group of journalists and media critics filling in for departed host Howard Kurtz. Earlier in the same month, he was awarded the Florida Press Club's first-ever Diversity award, honoring his coverage of issues involving race and media. He received the Legacy award from the National Association of Black Journalists' A&E Task Force, an honor bestowed to "seasoned A&E journalists who are at the top of their careers." Deggans serves on the board of educators, journalists and media experts who select the George Foster Peabody Awards for excellence in electronic media.

He also has joined a prestigious group of contributors to the first ethics book created in conjunction with the Poynter Institute for Media Studies for journalism's digital age: The New Ethics of Journalism, published in August 2013, by Sage/CQ Press.

Deggans has won reporting and writing awards from the Society for Features Journalism, American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists, The Florida Press Club and the Florida Society of News Editors. In 2010, he made national headlines interviewing former USDA official Shirley Sherrod at the NABJ's summer convention in San Diego, leading a panel discussion that was covered by all the major cable news and network TV morning shows.

Named in 2009, as one of Ebony magazine's "Power 150" – a list of influential black Americans which also included Oprah Winfrey and PBS host Gwen Ifill – Deggans was selected to lecture at Columbia University's prestigious Graduate School of Journalism in 2008 and 2005. He has lectured or taught as an adjunct professor at Loyola University, California State University, Indiana University, University of Tampa, Eckerd College and many other colleges.

His writing has also appeared in the New York Times online, Salon magazine,, the Washington Post, Village Voice, VIBE magazine, Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press, Chicago Sun-Times, Seattle Times, Emmy magazine, Newsmax magazine, Rolling Stone Online and a host of other newspapers across the country.

From 2004 to 2005, Deggans sat on the then-St. Petersburg Times editorial board and wrote bylined opinion columns. From 1997 to 2004, he worked as TV critic for the Times, crafting reviews, news stories and long-range trend pieces on the state of the media industry both locally and nationally. He originally joined the paper as its pop music critic in November 1995. He has worked at the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey and both the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Press newspapers in Pennsylvania.

Now serving as chair of the Media Monitoring Committee for the National Association of Black Journalists, he has also served on the board of directors for the national Television Critics Association and on the board of the Mid-Florida Society of Professional Journalists.

Additionally, he worked as a professional drummer in the 1980s, touring and performing with Motown recording artists The Voyage Band throughout the Midwest and in Osaka, Japan. He continues to perform with area bands and recording artists as a drummer, bassist and vocalist.

Deggans earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science and journalism from Indiana University.

It seems like another example of television's gender pay gap: executive producers of Netflix's drama The Crown have admitted that star Claire Foy, who played Queen Elizabeth, was paid less than Matt Smith, the supporting actor who played her husband, Prince Philip.

But a look at the details of this deal also shows how well stardom pays off in show business, especially when an actor in a supporting role is more famous than the star of their new television series.

After watching ABC's two-hour premiere of its American Idol reboot, I'm still not sure they answered the most important question: Why bring this faded music competition back now?

The easy answer is money.

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It's been nearly two years since we heard someone say...


RYAN SEACREST: This is "American Idol."

Marvel's Jessica Jones follows an alcoholic private eye who has superstrength and serious anger issues.

In a scene from the show's second season, due Thursday on Netflix, Jessica gets a little carried away in anger management class. She bounces a rubber ball against a wall while talking about what makes her emotional: "My whole family was killed in a car accident. Someone did horrific experiments on me. I was abducted, raped and forced to kill someone." Eventually, the wall gives way.

Critics tend to judge Olympics coverage by a few key metrics: How many mistakes did the commentators make, and how many people are actually watching the games in prime time?

When it comes to NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics, the first category has a couple of doozies, such as the network declaring a winner of the women's super-G Alpine skiing event before all the competitors had skied, including the actual winner.

It's the biggest smorgasbord on TV. NBC and its related platforms are serving up more than 2,400 hours of Olympics coverage through the closing ceremony on Feb. 25 — a record for a Winter Olympics. It's all there in front of you, but figuring out what you want and when you want it is a challenge. Here are a few ideas on sorting through it all:

How To Watch On TV

As a child of Gary, Ind., I've waited years for a TV show or movie to intimately explore Chicago's poor, mostly black South Side neighborhoods — like The Wire did for West Baltimore and Boyz N The Hood did for South Central Los Angeles. I so wanted Showtime's The Chi, which debuts Sunday, to be that show in this moment, but the first four episodes I saw didn't quite hit the mark.

The snow and severe cold of the "bomb cyclone" currently hitting the East Coast is no joke.

But for a TV nerd, a storm that shuts down work and school means more time for binge-watching!

It may be only a day or two, so viewing choices are crucial. Can't waste time with dramas that go nowhere or marginally funny sitcoms (yes, Twin Peaks and Curb Your Enthusiasm, I'm talking about you). I'm here to give you some suggestions tailored to your tastes. Hopefully, these shows will act like a hot bowl of chicken soup and a thick, warm blanket.

In a year filled with paradoxes, this might be one of the saddest: 2017 has been a great year for women in TV. But current circumstances sometimes make it difficult to celebrate.

That's because we're in the early stages of a reckoning over sexual harassment in Hollywood that is reshaping the industry in ways that are painful, necessary and tough to predict.

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Today we are wrapping up our series of Highly Specific Superlatives. And this entry starts with a scene in a TV show.


To be honest, I never really understood why so many people saw The Crown as a superior TV show last season.

Yes, the Netflix drama has the production values and ambition of an epic motion picture, tracing the long reign of Queen Elizabeth II. And for those who miss the aristocratic soap opera of Downton Abbey, a big-budget recounting of the royal family's turmoil over marriages and abdications is quite a replacement. Who can argue with 13 Emmy nominations?

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The latest powerful man to be accused of sexual misconduct is the hip-hop mogul who introduced us to sounds like this.


ABC's Grey's Anatomy might be the best show on television that TV critics rarely talk about.

Daniel "Hondo" Harrelson has a way with words that borders on magic. At least, it seems that way after watching a few episodes of CBS's newest police drama reboot, S.W.A.T.

In the new show, beefcake star Shemar Moore is Hondo, a nonwhite guy (the show isn't more specific) from a tough neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles who winds up leading a Special Weapons and Tactics police unit. Every chance he gets, he defuses tension with suspects or crime victims (often people of color) by telling them about his hardscrabble background.

It was TV history made in a moment. Goofy 13-year-old Cyrus Goodman came out as gay by confiding to his good friend Buffy that he had a crush on a boy. That boy is cool kid Jonah Beck, who just started dating Cyrus and Buffy's best friend, Andi Mack.

The show is the Disney Channel's hit tween dramedy, Andi Mack. And it's the first time the channel has featured a coming-out story for a teen in a live action show. The series hinted that Cyrus might have a crush on Jonah through its first season, but Friday's episode was the moment when Cyrus finally said it out loud.

Journalist-turned-TV producer David Simon is particularly good at two things: exposing the mindless, brutal institutions and systems that grind many Americans down, and humanizing people who normally exist at the margins of polite conversation.

Who exactly was Whitney Houston?

Was she the radiantly beautiful pop princess who earned the love of mainstream America with enduring hits like I Will Always Love You?

Was she the down-to-Earth onetime gospel singer from the 'hood in Newark who couldn't believe when the crowd at the 1989 Soul Train Awards booed her as a sellout to black music?

Like a lot of kids in high school, Sam worries that he doesn't fit in.

"I'm a weirdo. That's what everyone says," declares the 18-year-old character at the center of Netflix's new dramatic comedy series Atypical.

One reason Sam struggles to fit in: He has autism.

As his character explains at the start of the first episode, sometimes he doesn't understand what people mean when they say things. And that makes him feel alone, even when he's not.

What to feel, now that we know O.J. Simpson soon will be a free man?

That was the question, as cameras focused on a gray-haired, still-charming Orenthal James Simpson, near tears as he thanked members of a Nevada parole board Thursday afternoon. The board told him he could leave Lovelock Correctional Center as soon as this fall after serving nine years.

This is the network TV definition of too little, too late.

On Wednesday, CBS announced the names of three new actors who will be joining the cast of its long-running cop drama Hawaii Five-0. To no one's surprise, all three actors are nonwhite: Ian Anthony Dale is half Japanese, Meaghan Rath is half South Asian and Beulah Koale is of Samoan descent.

Starting this Sunday, HBO will devote five hours over four nights to perhaps the unlikeliest and most influential partnership in the modern music industry: rap producer and entrepreneur Dr. Dre and rock producer and music executive Jimmy Iovine. Directed by Allen Hughes, The Defiant Ones charts the duo's influence over music from the '70s on, and begins with a $3 billion deal jeopardized by — of all things — a Facebook post.

It's a depressing question to ask on a Father's Day weekend: What does it mean that a superstar comic and philanthropist once "America's Dad" just saw his prosecution on sexual assault charges end in a mistrial?

The trial against Bill Cosby ended Saturday, when a deadlocked jury was unable to reach a verdict on three counts of aggravated indecent assault after several days of deliberations. Until and unless the jurors speak, we won't know if just one or two of them declined to convict or if there was more widespread disagreement.

It sounds like the title to an awful, self-confessional memoir: Everything I learned about fatherhood, I learned from TV. But, as Father's Day approaches, this TV nerd finds himself reflecting on exactly that, the surprising lessons about fatherhood and parenting that came to me from iconic figures on the small screen.

If it seems like there's an explosion of TV coming at you this summer, that's because there is. And it's a trend that's been building for quite a while.

Back in the day — say five or 10 years ago — summer was a time of experimentation and slowing down. Network TV aired shows that would keep the lights on while reserving its best stuff for the fall, and cable TV took advantage by debuting more new shows as an alternative.

Anyone hoping to get a sense of how former Fox News star Megyn Kelly might reinvent herself for her new role as NBC News' big hire didn't get a lot of clues from the rather conventional debut episode of Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly.

It was a program which came with some fanfare, particularly if you were watching NBC News platforms in the days leading up to Sunday's debut. MSNBC, Today and NBC Nightly News all broadcast previews of Sunday Night's big get, Kelly's sit-down last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

As a TV critic who keeps an eye on social issues, I've long been critical of ABC's The Bachelor and The Bachelorette franchises. They urge viewers to believe completely contrived events are somehow spontaneous. They also support an unhealthy princess fantasy in which romance is conflated with an upper-middle class wonderland filled with reality TV fame and luxury resort getaways.

[It should be obvious, but there are loads of spoilers below from the first four episodes of Twin Peaks: The Return.]

In a year that has brought us some pretty trippy TV so far, Showtime's Twin Peaks revival has managed to uncork the weirdest, wildest, most unfathomable four hours of television I have seen this year on a major media outlet.

And for David Lynch fans, that's probably going to sound like heaven.

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It seems like it was only yesterday that my friends here on the show said goodbye to "American Idol."


ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Fifteen years of bad tryouts.