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Good, but: in praise of the mediocre review

Artists, and their fans, who hit out at mixed reviews misunderstand the value of critical ambivalence

By Harry Harris  

Middling-to-poor reviews of Fleabag and the Office have been mocked by fans. Photo: Prospect composite

There is a thing that happens with popular art where, once it has achieved an almost canonical status, we go back and roast the folks who weren’t that fussed on first viewing.

Ricky Gervais invited his fans to do it in 2016, sharing Victor Lewis Smith’s 2001 Evening Standard review of The Office in which Smith says “how this dross ever got beyond the pilot stage is a mystery.” In April of this year,…

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