Subtext Reviews

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Related terms: Reviews, Subtext, Slash Goggles
See also: Shippy, Coded, Headcanon
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Subtext reviews, also called subtext recaps, have been a popular form of fan reviews in many TV fandoms.

As opposed to traditional episode reviews, the focus of subtext recaps were on highlighting particular scenes, dialogue and interactions which the author of the recaps felt added more evidence to something specific — often a relationship, and usually a M/M or F/F relationship — being deliberately present via subtext, even if it was never confirmed explicitly. As a literary device, subtext has to be intentional, so many of the subtext recaps operated under the assumption that the cast and crew of the shows, particularly the writers, put these subtextual scenes into the show deliberately to indicate the presence of a ship or other aspect of the show.

Subtext recaps often spanned entire show runs, with each episode being analysed in-depth for evidence of subtext. Some shows would later confirm that there was indeed subtext in their shows, including some or many of the examples drawn out during subtext recaps; others either denied the presence of subtext or said that scenes and dialogue were being misinterpreted. Other shows' cast or crew never commented on any perceived subtext.

A number of fansites in the 90s and earlier 2000s would include subtext recaps as a part of their site, and subtext recaps were also hosted on larger entertainment sites, typically those with a large queer audience. Other fans posted them on their Livejournal, Wordpress, or Tumblr blogs. Some shows prompted a greater amount of subtext recaps than others; they were a prevalent form of fan activity in the Xena fandom, for example.

While they have become less commonplace by the 2020s in the original structured recap/review format which goes episode-by-episode (or season by season), the activity and intent behind them still very much exists in varying formats, including meta and discussions.

Subtext Recap Example