The Onion, Inc.
Popular culture, entertainment, news, reviews, politics, progressive
Laura M. Browning, Sean O’Neal
The A.V. Club is an entertainment website featuring reviews of films, music, television, books, and games, as well as interviews and other regular offerings that examine new media, 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. However, a 2005 website redesign placed The A.V. Club in a more prominent position, allowing its online identity to grow. Unlike its parent publication, The A.V. Club is not satirical.
- 201214 senior staff departures
- Television series
- AV Club year end lists
The publication’s name is a reference to school audiovisual clubs, "composed of a bunch of geeks who actually knew how to run the film strip and film projectors."
In 1993, five years after the founding of The Onion at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, UWM student Stephen Thompson launched an entertainment section, later renamed The A.V. Club, as part of the newspaper's 1995 redesign.
Both The Onion and The A.V. Club made their Internet debut in 1996. The A.V. Club acquired its own Internet domain name in December 1999.
In December 2004, Stephen Thompson left his position as founding editor of The A.V. Club. The A.V. Club website was redesigned in 2005 to incorporate blogs and reader comments. In 2006, concurrent with another redesign, the website shifted its model to begin adding content on a daily, rather than weekly, basis.
According to Sean Mills, then-president of The Onion, the A.V. Club website received more than 1 million unique visitors for the first time in October 2007. In late 2009, the website was reported as receiving over 1.4 million unique visitors and 75,000 comments per month.
On 9 December, 2010, the now-defunct website ComicsComicsMag revealed 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 then-editor Keith Phipps posted an apology on the website. Leonard Pierce, the author of the review, was terminated from his freelance role with the website.
At its peak, the print 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 13 December, 2012, long-time writer and editor Keith Phipps, who oversaw the development of the website for eight years after Stephen Thompson left, stepped down from his role as editor of The A.V. Club. He stated, "Onion, Inc. and I have come to a mutual parting of the ways."
On 2 April, 2013, longtime film editor and critic Scott Tobias stepped down from his role as film editor of The A.V. Club stating via Twitter, "After 15 great years @theavclub, I step down as Film Editor next Friday."
On 26 April, 2013, longtime writers Nathan Rabin, Tasha Robinson and Genevieve Koski announced that they would also be leaving the website 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 announced he would also be joining their project, but would continue to contribute to The A.V. Club in reduced capacity. On 30 May, 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 April and June 2014, senior staff writers Kyle Ryan, Sonia Saraiya and Todd VanDerWerff left the website for positions at Entertainment Weekly, Salon and Vox Media, respectively. In 2015, Ryan returned to Onion, Inc. for a position in development. Nathan Rabin also returned to write freelance for the website in May 2015, including the renewal of his regular column "My World of Flops", following his departure from The Dissolve earlier that month. The Dissolve itself folded in July 2015.
On 16 February, 2017, The A.V. Club's editor-at-large, John Teti, posted an article to the website announcing the upcoming release of a television series based on the website, also titled The A.V. Club. The series, hosted by Teti, began airing on Fusion on 16 March, 2017. The series features news, criticism and discussion about various popular culture topics and features staff members from the website.
The formerly available print version included subsections containing local content such as event previews, 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 website'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
Starting in 1999, only lists written by individual writers were published. Beginning in 2006, The A.V. Club began publishing website-consensus year-end album and film lists. Lists for individual writers continue to be published alongside the website-consensus list. Yearly best-of lists for television began in 2010.