These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
YMMV: Demo Reel
Angst Aversion: One reason why some don't give it a rewatching binge. Because at least with reviewers, the horrible stuff they go through is in part self-inflicted. Donnie, Tacoma and Rebecca was good people whose well-deserved Earn Your Happy Ending got crushed and never got any respect they craved or deserved. The overwhelming amount of Reality Subtext (Hoffman being based on a real woman who killed herself, how much of Doug gave of himself to create Donnie, Rachel suffering abuse in the industry like Rebecca did etc.) doesn't help in the slightest.
Angst? What Angst?: Averted for five episodes, as the Walkers both said they wanted to take issues and dark and troubled pasts completely seriously this time, but played straight in "The Review Must Go On". Donnie fights it, but Rebecca, Tacoma, Quinn and Karl are uncomfortably serene about their whole lives turning out to be fake.
Applicability: Donnie, Rebecca and Tacoma were abuse victims, and Karl at least is an atoning Shell-Shocked Veteran. So the characters and the "don't let your past consume you" aesop were especially relatable to audience members who'd suffered in similar ways.
After Critic's extreme self-hatred in To Boldly Flee and Doug confirming that he just wanted to be a good person from now on, you'd think he wouldn't need to learn any more lessons...
The idea that the whole thing is some self induced punishment by the Critic. If Critic imposed this life on himself and then wiped his own memory, when was he suppose to be atoned and reach the Zen moment? Remember Donnie chooses to accept his life of failure and goes forward, The Creator/Plot Hole are the ones that decide that he has suffered enough and should become the Critic again, not Donnie himself. That defeats the whole point of it being self inflicted. There is no self realization on Critic's part. Infact The Creator is the one who tells him the lesson he should have learned, again contradicting the idea that it's a self inflicted punishment meant to allow him to understand those he has mocked.
Critic wanting to come back in the first place. No explanation is given as to why he suddenly changed his mind over hating his job for years and finally finding peace in the Plot Hole. Even after a live review of Twilight Breaking Dawn part 2, he was so angry he wanted to go back to the Plot Hole.
Made even worse by the beginning of his Kickassia review (done when they had no intention of bringing him back), as his complaining about the Plot Hole as a "purgatory of hell" is revealed to be just him being a Drama Queen. He's actually living in luxury with a waiter to serve drinks and is having an awesome time.
Confirmed in the DVD commentary by Doug. Donnie-as-Critic was just an out of nowhere twist he and Rob wrote because the fans were so annoying with their "bring back Critic" demands.
Audience-Alienating Premise: Lindsay once said that in order to keep the teenage boy fanbase, she had to make feminism in her videos as soft and jokey as possible for them to even sort of accept it. And judging by how many male fans that complained about Doug being a Category Traitor because the show was a lot more based on social justice, her point was proven.
Best Known for the Fanservice: Even people who didn't care for the characters or drama or social commentary realized the fangirl shipping bait Donnie provided.
Black Comedy: While the first episode was fairly lighthearted in terms of comedy, the second episode heavily delved into this trope. From references to Saved by the Bell (particularly the caffeine pills episode) to the whole studio being menaced by a turkey, it's hard not to laugh despite the more dark and dramatic moments. However, starting with the third episode, it wasn't very comedic, not even in a dark comedy sense.
Broken Base: Still in its early stages but whether or not ending the show was a good idea is already a fairly big debate on the forums.
This show broke bases even beyond that. The announcement of Demo Reel and the end of The Nostalgia Critic broke the base between fans who did and did not want him to move on. Once the show started airing, the base broke further between people who thought the show was underwhelming, a bit of a train wreck and people who thought that it was well written, had smart commentary with Hollywood/social justice matters and wanted it to continue. Lastly the return of the old show and the end of Demo Reel has fans divided several ways in several combinations: ecstatic for the end of Demo Reel, ecstatic for the return of the Critic, and sad to see Demo Reel end. It then goes into worry over why Doug made this choice, as some are still unsure how sincere the events depicted are. Some say for money, some say a decline in viewership, while some believe Doug is being sincere in that it was reignited passion.
The show had a really effective soundtrack, from the discordant notes playing when Tacoma was scared about Rebecca in Lost In Translation, to the heartbreakingly sad tune when Donnie was forced to leave in The Review Must Go On.
Cult Classic: It didn't get enough views to carry on, but the people who loved it (especially the slash/shipping fandom) were as dedicated as humanly possible.
Evil Is Sexy: Karl's intensity, German accent, Nice Hat and weapons-handling has made him a favorite for not so innocent reasons. Even in-universe, he can rangle 3 sexy girls to his hotel room during a visit to Shado-Con!
For two in-movie characters with about three minutes of screentime, Bane's henchmen are getting disproportionate love. Putting the already attractive Doug and Rachel in eyeliner, tight shirts and giving them big guns probably had something to do with it.
As scary and OOC as it was, Critic in “The Review Must Go On” could still Psychotic Smirk damn fine.
Family-Unfriendly Aesop: With the way the series ended, Donnie was right with his "you can try your best but still fail miserably" breakdown.
Fanon: As we'll never get an answer and he goes straight to flirting with everyone anyway, it's accepted Donnie ruined his already rocky marriage by having an affair. Whether it was man or woman is still up for debate though.
People who thought Critic had a great send-off in To Boldly Flee, that he became a selfless Big Good adult who was finally able to rest and help people (Doug also thought this on his commentary), aren't so happy with the purgatory Ass Pull either. There's even Fix Fic popping up.
Foe Yay: The SWAG leader sounds a little too breathily excited about making Donnie suffer.
Was worse in Transformers as the Mood-Swinger threatening phone-call made him sound like the type of ex you'll file a restraining order against.
More with Rebecca, as at the end of "Blue Patches", she has a line of "all's well that ends well, that's what I always say". Cute and cheesy in the moment, but comes off as horrible Tempting Fate for her and friends' actual end.
Genius Bonus: Uncle Yo asks Donnie if he's Sisyphus, pushing the rock up the hill again and again. That was Sisyphus's punishment for lying, which Donnie has quite the familiarity with, only he's punishing himself through self-loathing.
And for the people still not persuaded, "Lost In Translation: Bromance Version" grew it even longer thanks to Doug being a rather wonderful dramatic actor, moving the story along and letting the parody be "real life" instead of Stylistic SuckShow Within a Show.
Harsher in Hindsight: Doug jokingly and exaggeratively predicted the overhype and the fan disappointment in the "No More Nostalgia Critic?" video, the very video in which Demo Reel was announced.
In "The Dark Knight Begins Rising", Donnie ashamedly admits that they're not making any money, "in fact you could argue we're losing money", but they're Doing It for the Art and that's all that counts. Unfortunately, Doug's real-life assertions of the same couldn't last, and the show was cancelled.
Touched by Donnie revealing four open endings to him, Uncle Yo tells him they should meet up again in April and Donnie agrees. As of January, that won't be happening due to the small fact that Donnie's Word of God dead.
At Shadocon 2012, Doug said the focus of 2013 will be Demo Reel and putting all of his focus into it. The harshness speaks for itself.
In “The Blair Witch Hangover”, the SWAG leader brags that “the troubling nature of Donnie DuPre and Demo Reel will no longer be on our radars”. He'll be more right than he knows in two episodes.
Tacoma and Rebecca are forced to choose between giving up Demo Reel and having their best work destroyed. As they've developed to the point where there's no way they'd give up the show, they refuse and the “Blue Patches” sequel is erased. Guess what happens one episode later?
After "The Review Must Go On", every single line about moving on from the past and being excited for the future. Everything about everyone's painful backstory too, as it turned out to just be pointless.
In-show, Uncle Yo asking Donnie if it was his mother that told him not go into Hollywood. Ouch. No wonder Donnie went to throw up after.
Donnie's mother Elissa Hoffman is a tribute to real life actress Elizabeth Hartman, who committed suicide. Upsetting stuff. Then, after TRMGO, it's revealed that even that was just to "teach the Critic a lesson."
Rebecca's speech about how poorly actresses are treated (that was taken from Rachel's real life experiences in the acting/modeling industry) becomes much sadder later on in The Shining commentary, when Rachel stated that she'd partake in offensive sexism on the rebooted Nostalgia Critic as long as she got paid. She ended up leaving the site shortly after the commentary was posted.
Heartwarming In Hindsight: Tacoma's In Media Res apology to Donnie at the start of "The Blair Witch Hangover". We think he's apologizing for the argument in the last episode, which is sweet enough, but becomes all the more powerful when everyone finds out just what Donnie's damage is.
It was Rob's first chance at non-ham acting too, and he didn't waste it. The mangst scene at the end of Transformers was especially good.
Hilarious in Hindsight: When Doug asked for Slash Fic in "Lost In Translation", he was probably expecting Donnie to be paired up with Tacoma and Uncle Yo the most. He certainly has, but what's the pairing with the majority of fics? Donnie/Carl. Considering Doug and Rob's penchant for teasing though, it's no surprise.
With the complaints that New Critic is much worse with social issues that he used to be, and the dudebro reputation of the fedora, fans do like to joke that maybe sweet and femmy Donnie shouldn't have been the one wearing it.
Memetic Sex God: There's very few people who don't want to get some Donnie-cake. In the case of abuse in the past, Tom Collins and the family, this isn't always a good thing for him.
Misaimed Fandom: Straight guys like to joke that if Rachel had shown her "tietz", the show would still be around, thereby proving that its point about sexism in Hollywood didn't matter to them.
On the other side, Donnie in the forest was indeed part fanservice, but a You Bastard kind as the Big Bad wants footage of him starving to death and he nearly kills himself out of depression for his dead mother. Cue fangirls focusing on the pretty and not listening to anything he said.
Moe: Donnie has an unfairly pretty smile, knows full well how to turn on the Puppy-Dog Eyes, and thinks the other two are his best friends.
Moral Event Horizon: The leader of SWAG getting his associates to kidnap Donnie and leave him to die in the woods is seen as this by two saner members of his team. And after watching Donnie have a breakdown and eventually want a Together in Death with his mom, you're agreeing with them
If that wasn't enough, he destroys Rebecca and Tacoma's Christmas gift for Donnie a good film sequel they'd made in his honor, which Rebecca also seems to consider as this In-Universe as she instantly attacks him for it.
Two choices for the family. Either laughing at Donnie when he reveals his tragic backstory, or when we find out they were planning to keep him by drugging him constantly with heavy narcotics.
In hindsight, the daughter crossed it an episode before when it's revealed she was following Donnie around, heard every broken thing he said and still had a good old giggle at his crying for his mom.
Narm Charm: The Wreck-It Ralph speech would make you blind if you drank every time the word “friend” or “family” is mentioned, but Doug/Donnie completely sells it (even nearly crying), the music is awesome, and it's a stirring back-drop to Rebecca beating the turkey to death for making her guy sick.
Never Live It Down: Even Rob (on the forums) Ron The Death Eatered Donnie for the scene where he manipulated Tacoma with bedroom eyes while his wedding ring was still in the shot, calling him Ask That Guy-like and a psychopath. While Donnie does have The Vamp qualities that aren't excused by people being abusive towards him, the strong reaction to a guy just homoerotically getting another guy to do what he wants shows some issues.
No Yay: The yandere family towards Donnie. The parents are practically on the bed with him when they watch him sleep, plus there's the small fact that he couldn't move at all while being dosed with the narcotics.
One True Threesome: Donnie/Tacoma/Rebecca shipping cropped up not too long after the trailer.
Solving the conflict of episode three with Uncle Yo/Donnie/Egoraptor is popular for reasons that should be clear.
Padding: The most common complaint about the pilot is that it could've been cut in half and been twice as funny, as a lot of the movie scenes drag on longer than they really have to. The behind-the-scenes segments don't suffer from this as often.
Pandering to the Base: One of the whole points of the show was to have Doug objectified in every way that fans who were attracted to him wanted him to be. Having Donnie kidnapped twice in two episodes, with him spending the entirety of “The Blair Witch Hangover” crawling around the forest crying and getting muddier, was the best kind of fanservice that his sadist fandom could have hoped for.
Selective Squick: The show was everything that the fangirls and LGBT fans had ever asked for, leaving the straight male demographic out in the cold.
The amount of Ship Tease and sex in the show was treated like a bad thing after Doug felt like he had to torch the show. Suggestions that parody!Donnie and parody!Tacoma have gay scenes are reacted to with disgust and both their Snob and Pearl Harbor-review rips have a history of doing porn.
Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: The Horrible Hollywood angle is not the most subtle thing ever, but Donnie's and Rebecca's rants about it are partly based on real life. Doug originally went into film but found out the industry would eat someone like him alive so went the safer route of illustration, while Rachel half-improvised her speech on actresses because she says she has experience in that area.
Revisited in "Blue Patches" where the find out Donnie's actress mother killed herself because she was reaching middle age and the roles dried up while she was trying to raise a son.
Donnie's rant in Blue Patches about people obsessing over Accentuate the Negative and ripping into child actors, and how people need to move pass that to achieve what they really want to do could be seen as Doug's commentary on why he decided to retire the Nostalgia Critic.
The Walkers stuffed a record amount of Ho Yay into each episode, but it was treated as normal. No affectionate "that's so Takei", none of the fetishization of Ask That Guy, no using Nella's bisexuality for a giggle; Donnie flirted and had sex with boys, hard-ass men held hands, the third episode was a gay version of Lost in Translation and it all just was. Donnie also completely inverted gayngst; despite all his self-loathing about everything else he was always secure in his sexuality and non-manliness.
Both Donnie and Rebecca are rape victims (Donnie from an incident he connects to A Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and Rebecca from her uncle and being made to do porn), but more focus is given to how they deal with it; Donnie by being shamelessly slutty and Rebecca going angry feminist who refuses to do fanservice not on her own terms. Survivors who had to find their own ways of taking control of sexuality again appreciated it.
The Transformers episode on the DVD is pretty clunky when it comes to talking about (white male) privilege, but works for three reasons. 1) The intersectionality. Donnie is bisexual and depressed for good reason, but still eventually realizes that he has advantages of being a white guy. 2) It sets up the Central Theme of just how badly minorities are screwed over by Hollywood. 3) The movie parody. If you're going to talk about privilege then Michael Bay is the perfect target to satirize.
"Lost In Translation" came around the same time the topic of "fake geek girls" was really getting talked about. In said episode, Donnie knows nothing about geeky interests and doesn't care a lot of the time, but is sinking deeper into depression, is very good at attracting people and so uses Yo's knowledge of Pokemon to get Ego in bed with him. Ego doesn't care, and when Yo is upset, Donnie calls him out on just wanting his ego stroked; the essential message being "even if a girl (or boy) fakes interest in nerdy things, they're probably lonely so lay off them and stop being a dick."
The Twilight parody - with Rebecca as Bella, Donnie as Edward and assumedly Tacoma as Jacob - was only in the trailer, but with the show's feminist Female Gaze gayfest bent, how cool would that have been as an episode?
We'll miss you, Rebecca Stone, and your turkey-beating, terrorist-beatdowning, smarter-than-everyone-gives-you-credit-for ways.
And Karl Copenhagen, of course, will be missed as well.
And of course, the series as a whole. Doug finally getting to do what he wanted... and then being forced to cancel it after just six episodes.
Too Good to Last: While there are still plenty of people mocking Doug or Rachel whenever they miss it, there are also regular posts and comments apologizing for only realizing how good it was after it got canceled, or wishing it could have carried on.
Tough Act to Follow: Many people had reacted negatively to the show because it followed The Nostalgia Critic, but as the show went on people warmed up to it, leaving many disappointed when the events of "The Review Must Go On" unfolded.
What comes around, goes around- some fans hate the new Critic episodes just because they're not this show (Alongside other things like Critic being even more of a whiny douchebag who picks on actors and actresses, even though the whole point of Demo Reel was to make him understand the pains of being an actor.
Unfortunate Implications: Doug admitted in his DVD Commentary that "The Review Must Go On" was a Take That aimed at fans who wanted Critic back, so it was only fitting that there were a lot of things in the special that hurt people. This sum-up post lists a few things, like a cast of abuse victims (Rebecca being a rape survivor, not to mention Donnie's backstory also ending up in Bury Your Gays) and a real life woman's suicide being used to teach Critic a lesson, and Critic himself being played as an abusive boyfriend making Doug overdose.
Vocal Minority: Never mind the people who really liked it, even the people who had criticism for certain things (like Collins having confusing motivation, the Reality Subtext being overwhelming, being lazy with Quinn etc.) were angry at the much louder comments demanding Critic's return, bemoaning Doug "betraying his gender by writing sensitive crap", sending death threats to “feminazi” Rebecca, calling Donnie a “pathetic fag” for having issues in the woods, or wanting Tacoma to just “shut up and eat watermelon”.
He also gets this for his backstory in "Wreck-It Ralph vs Angry Birds". He was an investigative journalist who uncovered a massive ponzi scheme and got the ringleader thrown in jail. Unfortunately said ringleader was his own dad, and now his whole family hates him and his mom won't even talk to him over the phone without charging him.
Donnie starts slipping in episode two and falls headlong in the trope for episode three. Out of one many examples; his wife hanging up on him before he can finish saying "I love you".
Taken Up to Eleven in the episode "Blue Patches" where it was revealed he was once a child actor with a reputation of being the worst ever, his mother commits suicide while in the middle of production of what would be his last film and his family who constantly mocks him for being a failure. Not to mention he was caught by an extremely Yandere family obsessed with his bad films forcing him to re-watch those films which brings back all that sadness.
He practically went to Fantine levels in "The Review Must Go On", as all the friends he needs so much disappear, he's completely willing to get himself committed, and then he has to learn that he and his backstory is just a punishment for Critic always mocking child stars. It's shoot-yourself-in-the-head worthy.