June 24, 2024


Tom Shales was a well-known American writer and television critic. He was a television critic for The Washington Post from 1977 to 2010, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1988.

He also wrote a column for the television news trade publication NewsPro, published by Crain Communications.

Tom Shales was the bard of the boob tube, a maestro of dissecting the highs and lows of television with wit and wisdom.

For over three decades, his pen wielded as potently as any remote control, shaping the national conversation about what flickered on our screens. He was the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic for The Washington Post, the guy who made us laugh while we pondered the brilliance of “Hill Street Blues” and the bewilderment of “Baywatch.”

His reviews weren’t just critiques; they were vibrant performances, pirouetting from poignant observations to hilarious send-ups. He could be a scold, chiding reality TV for its soul-sucking tendencies, or a cheerleader, championing the innovative storytelling of groundbreaking dramas.

But above all, he was a chronicler, documenting the evolution of television – from clunky sitcoms to the streaming gold rush – with an eye for both its artistic aspirations and its crass commercialism.

Shales wasn’t a TV snob. He reveled in the guilty pleasures of trash TV, finding humor in the absurd and pathos in the predictable.

He understood that television, in all its messy glory, was a shared experience, a campfire of flickering images that brought us together (even if we were laughing at different jokes).

Tom Shales died at the age of 79 from complications from COVID-19 and renal failure, said his caretaker, Victor Herfurth. He died on January 13th, 2023.

Tom Shales
Tom Shales

Did Tom Shales Have Kids?

The creator of the boob tube, Tom Shales, guarded his privacy like a remote control with white knuckles. It is unknown if his laughter reverberated through a house full of small horrors or if it stayed a solo sonata.

Though he was never the target of tiny critics at award ceremonies or saw school plays in progress, his writing gave rise to innumerable universes full of heartbreaking and humorous characters.

The question of his children was merely another channel to tune into, the one labeled “imagination.” He may not have constructed his own family fort, but he did construct innumerable castles in the air.



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