Yesterday at the Television Critics Association, CBS presented its upcoming fall drama Stalker, a thriller about, you guessed it, stalkers. Stars Dylan McDermott and Maggie Q. were there promoting the show, as well as its creator, Kevin Williamson, a TV veteran who also created Dawson’s Creek and most recently, The Following.
During the panel, several critics, including Meredith Blake at the Los Angeles Times, Alyssa Rosenberg at the Washington Post, Dan Feinberg from HitFix, and myself, asked Williamson about his motivations behind the show. Williamson became defensive as the panel went on, dismissing claims that his show was shocking or stylized, arguing that it was trying to bring awareness to the issue of stalking while also making it “entertaining.” After one question on the show’s subject matter, which was the third in a row on the subject, Williamson shrugged and said, “Turn the channel”—meaning, if you don’t like it, just don’t watch the show.
Several critics present then remarked upon the panel on Twitter—including some who defended the show as an engaging thriller, while others took issue with its content and with the way Williamson handled the panel.
Apparently, Kevin Williamson Googled himself today, because this afternoon, he found the critical tweets from Todd VanDerWerff, Vox’s culture editor (and former TV Editor of The A.V. Club). Playground name-calling ensued. There are multiple tweets (in fact, the Twitter War Of July 18, 2014, is still ongoing) but here are a few gems. (As you can see, I was also drawn into it.)
As you can imagine, I wanted to hear the other side of the story, here. So I turned to my immediate right to ask VanDerWerff to comment. He said: “I have enjoyed many of Williamson’s works in the past and hope to enjoy more of them in the future. However, he asked what my job was, and I’m happy to tell him that what I do most often is write TV criticism. And as a TV critic, I would happily submit to him that if he would stop making morally reprehensible trash, I would stop calling it morally reprehensible trash. Happy weekend, Kevin!”