It’s high time I updated this, so here it goes.
Greetings, I am Hat. If you’ve browsed my site for a bit, you’ve probably found some reviews. This is by intentional. I’ve been at this for a few years now, and over time my style and focus has changed somewhat, so there’s a bit of disparity between my older reviews and my newer ones. You may notice that some of them have images, some of them have ratings, and some of them are over ten thousand words long. Most people come across these as I post them, but if you’re looking for more, I’d encourage you to check out the Archive. There are plenty of them by this point, I assure you.
But you’re here for a ratings explanation, aren’t you?
To be honest, I started this blog with the intent of providing a quick snapshot of a piece of entertainment media through a ratings system, but I’ve since moved on to prefer longer articles. They’re far more interesting to read and write, and many of my reviews are really more of longform discussions.
However, because some people still find the ratings useful, and because I like to have metrics, I’ve kept them. I don’t know if they still work (or ever really worked), so take them with a grain of salt, but here’s a basic rundown of how they work.
Star Ratings are for episodes of longer review series, particularly those that cover multiple seasons or books. The baseline for these is set against what I see as the average quality of the series overall. This is often a moment-to-moment thing, so a series with a few punctuated highlights, but a plodding narrative overall, will have a fairly low baseline compared to a series that is more consistent. I’ll generally rate the episode itself on its most memorable moments, so the episodes where those highlights come into play may receive a five-star rating, even if they’re noticeably average outside of a few distinct moments.
Essentially, these are just here to judge my favorite episodes, or episodes that stand out. If you want a quick guide for what each value means, this might be useful:
***** ~ IT HAS DRAGONS! AND THEY’RE WEARING TINY BOOTS!
**** ~ Good. Firm. Succulent.
*** ~ Either nothing happened, or it was life-affirming but the last-minute incest plot twist undermined what the episode was going for
** ~ Not great, but I’m not willing to throw in the towel and admit that I hated it just yet
* ~ What am I doing with my life?
This one is meant to point out what a given narrative tries to do, and how well it performs. The sum scores are also sort of supposed to be comparable between different series, which isn’t how math works, but what are you gonna do?
This system is basically a way to dress up subjective opinions on the merits of a series and make them compete for our love.
It’s sort of like the Kelvin scale in that way. On a system of 0 to 10, 0 is impossibly bad, and 10 is impossibly good. Therefore, I never give tens or zeros. Nines and ones are rare, so pay attention to series that have them. For the rest, fives are average, so anything higher or lower hypothetically should scale evenly on either side of a rating of five.
Take for instance:
This is the fingerprint of a very confusing narrative. Its story is almost but not quite absolute garbage, the major characters are perfectly average, it’s kinda pleasing to look at or listen to, but its delivery is a bit off-kilter, and yet, it has some of the most spectacular bunny trails I’ve ever seen. 10/10 would watch again to feel slightly underwhelmed, all for the joy of those subplots.
The categories are entirely subjective, and may encompass each other. Aren’t Sound and Cinematography both Aesthetics? How can the Aesthetics be 2, but the Sound is 6 and the Cinematogrpahy is 7, and you don’t list anything else? In what universe does that make sense, Hat?!?
Welcome to the blog.
If you want to compare different reviews by using the sum, here’s a handy guide:
0-5 – Only in the Berenstein Universe
6-10 – No.
11-20 – Oh, hello, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
21-30 – Eh, it’s whatever the literary equivalent of edible is
31-40 – Okay, no, these are actually pretty damn good
41-45 – These are Hat’s guilty pleasures inflated to absurd proportions, but they’ll never fully admit that
46-50 – Only in the Berenstein Universe*
A Note on Weird Distributions:
You may notice that my reviews tend to be far more negative and less variable than those of other reviewers. This is largely to distinguish really exceptional pieces, for better or worse. For me, 50% of the maximum rating is exactly average for a completed, polished piece. That means 3 stars or 25/50 is more akin to a B grade or a 75%, depending on what other ratings systems you’re looking at. Most media should fall into a bell curve between 10 and 90% of the maximum value, with only a very small number of pieces being exceptionally bad or good overall. Because I’m not obligated to review everything I come across, I do tend to pick out things that I like or find interesting in the first place, so you’ll probably see a lot of 30s and high 20s.
Honestly, I go back and forth on whether I agree with my older ratings a lot, so if I sound like I really enjoy a film or the like, but I give it a relatively low review (or vice-versa), just know that the ratings reflect an impression. It may not be an accurate one, but it might let you know if the thing being reviewed is worth a look.
*Yes, I am implying that the Berenstein Universe is a bizarre heaven/hellscape where matter and antimatter can coexist peacefully, where the Laws of Physics have a below-board black market that sells existential scones, and where Smith’s salt-and-vinegar chips exist in the U.S. It is a powerful and mysterious place.