Television Without Pity was a cultural touchstone for the Internet throughout the Aughts. What happened?
In 1997, Sarah Bunting and Tara Ariano met and became friends on the Internet, bonding over the weekly Dawson’s Creek recaps they posted on a forum for 90210 summaries. In the late ‘90’s and early 2000s, episode recaps and summaries were important parts of fandom archives and commentary sites, serving as ways for new fans to explore and investigate new shows. In the days before Megaupload and other download sites made it easier for fans to access missed episodes, recaps were viable and necessary parts of the language of fandom.
…. Despite the website’s popularity, it gained a reputation over the years for being inconsistently moderated. While some fandoms, particularly those for popular reality TV shows, flourished in the TWOP forums, others like The West Wing clashed both internally and with show creators. At one point Aaron Sorkin allegedly gave a fictional version of the site an unflattering dressing-down in a West Wing episode after unpleasant interactions with fans on the show’s forum. Through its heyday, it served as a testing ground for forays over the fourth wall between fans and creators, as both groups learned the positives and negatives of interacting with each other directly via the medium of the Internet.