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.

Deggans is also currently a media analyst/contributor for MSNBC and NBC News. In August 2013, he 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. The same month, Deggans 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." And in 2019, he was named winner of the American Sociological Association's Excellence in the Reporting of Social Justice Issues Award.

In 2019, Deggans served as the first African American chairman of 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.

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.

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(It should almost go without saying; there are going to be some serious spoilers in this piece about Sunday's pivotal, bruising episode of The Walking Dead.)

They finally did it.

I'm not talking about the decision by producers of The Walking Dead to kill two important characters in Sunday's gut-wrenching episode. Fans knew since the cliffhanger ending of season six back in April that super-psycho bad guy Negan was going to beat someone they cared about to death with his barbed wire-covered bat, Lucille.

It's tough to find a more bubbly, positive person than Lacie Pound.

She always has a kind word for the baristas and café workers who serve her morning coffee. She drinks a smoothie offered by a co-worker even when it doesn't taste so good. And she's determined to give an award-winning toast as the maid of honor at her oldest friend's wedding.

Lacie, played by Jurassic World co-star Bryce Dallas Howard, is the central character in "Nosedive" — a new episode in the third season of the British anthology drama, Black Mirror, which debuts on Netflix today.

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When our collective attention turns to the flood of new shows headed to network television each fall, the same question arises:

Does the fall TV season even matter anymore?

It's true that in the age of #PeakTV new shows drop all the time, so focusing on the fall seems a little old fashioned. But I think this time of year still matters, for a few reasons.

For Star Trek's George Takei, it was one of the worst predictions he ever made, and one of the best strokes of luck in his life: Takei, known to fans worldwide as helmsman Hikaru Sulu, originally thought the show would last only one season.

"When we were shooting the pilot, Jimmy Doohan [who played engineer Montgomery "Scotty" Scott] said to me, 'Well, George, what do you think about this? What kind of run do you think we'll have?'" says Takei. "And I said, 'I smell quality. And that means we're in trouble.' "

Editor's note: As you'll see right away, this column includes a word that is offensive to many.

Ask star and co-creator Issa Rae about the many times the word "nigga" surfaces in her new HBO comedy Insecure — a wonderfully unassuming comedy about the life of a sometimes-awkward young black woman in Los Angeles — and she's got a simple answer.

This is how she and her friends talk to each other.

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HBO's The Night Of, which premiered on Sunday, is a gripping, complex drama about crime and justice — and its arrival could not be better-timed. The eight-part series looks at how a criminal justice bureaucracy — filled with people who are just doing their jobs — trundles along on such dysfunction that truth and fairness are often the first casualties.

(Be warned, intrepid reader: This story contains loads of spoilers regarding every episode from this season's run of Game of Thrones, including Sunday's season finale.)

This was the season that Game of Thrones seriously changed its game.

Nowhere was that more evident than in Sunday's season finale, the last of 10 episodes that pulled together far-flung storylines and characters spread across the show's mythical seven kingdoms — and beyond.

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There is a moment, a little ways into tonight's first episode of the Oprah Winfrey Network's new drama, Greenleaf, which sums up all the things that work — and don't — in this ambitious nighttime soap.

Merle Dandridge plays the show's heroine, Grace Greenleaf. Her father, Bishop James Greenleaf, and mother, Lady Mae Greenleaf, founded a powerful, predominantly black megachurch in Memphis, Tenn., where she preached as a child. After 20 years away from home, she has come back — for the funeral of her sister Faith, who killed herself.

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Summer is always a weird time for the TV industry.

These days, in a #PeakTV world where hundreds of scripted shows air every year, there is no downtime. Which means viewers will see a dizzying number of new and returning TV shows this summer on broadcast, cable and online — close to 100 series, by my count.

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"Top Gear" is more than just a show about fast cars and funny adventures. It is a blockbuster for the BBC. Tonight, the show returns to BBC America revamped with new hosts. Here's NPR TV critic Eric Deggans on its chances for success.

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#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the #NPRreads hashtag. Each weekend, we highlight some of the best stories.

Forget all that stiff-upper-lip stuff. If you're looking for evidence that the British have a big, beating heart underneath their reputation for reserve and restraint, look no further than Sunday's finale of their popular TV export, Downton Abbey.

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Viceland is the new cable channel from Vice Media. NPR producer Andrew Limbong and our TV critic, Eric Deggans, watched three of their offerings, including "Gaycation," a travel documentary show focused on LGBT issues. It's co-hosted by actress Ellen Page. Here she is in Japan.

Host Chris Rock made sure Sunday's Oscars were about as black as they could be, given that no black people had been nominated in any high-profile categories.

Of course, Rock brought the pain, as he always does, in a razor-sharp monologue skewering sensibilities on all sides of the #OscarsSoWhite debate. And his comedy bits throughout the show kept up a steady drumbeat, reminding audiences in the hall and at home just who had been left behind.

A newly released study suggests diversity in TV and film is so bad, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite should probably be changed to #HollywoodSoWhite.

That's because of an "epidemic of invisibility" cited by researchers at the University of Southern California, who analyzed more than 21,000 characters and behind-the-scenes workers on more than 400 films and TV shows released from September 2014 through August 2015. They tabulated representations of gender, race, ethnicity and sexual status.

HBO's music industry drama Vinyl comes at you like a classic rock song you can't get out of your head.

Powerful. Emotional. But also kind of predictable.

It's obvious from one of the earliest moments in the first episode, when Bobby Cannavale's out-of-control record company owner Richie Finestra stumbles into a smoky club circa 1971 and finds the New York Dolls.

Sometimes it's better to leave more to the imagination.

That's the thought I'm left with after watching all of the ads that aired in CBS' Super Bowl broadcast Sunday night.

It may be an accepted truism that the commercials are often more exciting than the game. But this year, viewers watching for the ads sat through an uneven collection of spots — of which many of the best moments had already been revealed days earlier.

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Ask James Franco why a movie star might want to work in TV, and he won't mention a television show. He'll talk about a book.

Turns out, like a lot of TV nerds, Franco geeked out over the book Difficult Men, a detailed look at how the creators and showrunners of classic "quality TV" series like The Sopranos, Breaking Bad and The Wire shaped the shows that built the foundation for modern TV drama.

Before we get too far into 2016, it's worth taking one more look at what happened to media in the year that just ended. To paraphrase the old saying, ignorance of history dooms you to repeat it. And some of what happened in media in 2015, we really want to avoid repeating.

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