Ah, the gif recap. In case your parents have banned you from the internet since 2007, here's what it means: Instead of a boring old TV recap utilizing "text" or "words," a gif recap uses animated images from the show in order to put you "right in the middle of the action." It's almost as if you're actually watching TV, in very short snippets, with no sound, on an endless and hypnotic loop. And no commercials!
Peace and quiet
The phenomenon of "volume creep" is a well-documented one. Commercials get louder and louder to compete for the attention of increasingly bored and restless audiences, and the actual programming gets louder to match. And on and on, until you can't turn on your TV without blasting your eardrums all to hell. With a gif recap, you get the visual gist of a TV show without feeling like you just got back from a 13th Floor Elevators concert. Can a normal TV review do that? (No)
The images sink in
Normal TV recaps tend to hit your eyeballs and then evaporate. Who has the space to store what some TV critic thought about last night's "Community" in your long-term memory? A gif recap, on the other hand, burrows its way into your brain, and if you look at an animated gif long enough, it will eventually be all you can see. Close your eyes to escape the image of Kramer sliding into Jerry's apartment, and you'll still see it, permanently etched into your corneas. Fun!
Let's face it – the very nature of TV recaps dictates that the person doing the writing either takes the show way too seriously, or not seriously enough. This tends to throw any attempts at humor off-balance – but there's nothing funnier than an animated gif of Will Arnett tripping and falling into a large birthday cake over and over again.
One of the reason animated gifs have become so popular is that they can be modified and adapted to fit any purpose. Slap an "oh hell no!" over an appropriate animated gif, and you have a fun and easy way to say "oh hell no!" on the internet. Like January Jones on "Mad Men"? Like Gillian Jacobs on "Community"? How about a hastily-assembled animated gif that appears to show them kissing? This is what technology is supposed to be used for.
The internet has turned many of us into lazy, undisciplined readers. So why fight it? By supplementing (or in some cases, replacing entirely) words on a page, animated gif recaps keep us from having to drag our eyeballs across too many rows of uninterrupted text. Which gives us more time to watch TV, thank God!
As the popularity of DVRs shows, nobody likes to sit through commercials. By "reading" animated gif recaps, you get some of the bold flavor of your favorite TV show without any commercials, which is more than some lame-ass textual review can provide. Why read about the innovative and aesthetically electrifying use of mise-en-scene on "Two And A Half Men" when you can literally see it for yourself?