The Best and Worst of the 2010 Emmys

I throughly enjoyed last night’s Emmys telecast. Jimmy Fallon did a fine job as host and the shows I care most about Modern Family and Mad Men went home with the night’s top prizes. Here is my recap of the Emmys.

The Best:

1. The Glee-ful Opening – I fully expected there to be a Glee performance somewhere in the show but I did not expect it to be a wonderful as this opening number. Host Fallon, my favorite Gleeks – Lea Michele, Chris Colfer, Cory Monteith, and Amber Riley – plus the likes of Tina Fey, Jon Hamm, Joel McHale, and Nina Dobrev form their own Glee club. They prevent Kate Gosselin from joining and Betty White is Jon Hamm’s dance coach. AND they perform Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run. This Jersey girl was in Glee/Emmy heaven.

2. The wins for Modern Family – Modern Family is the best new comedy of television. Its wins for Best Comedy, Best Writing and Best Supporting Actor (Eric Stonestreet) were well-deserved. Toss in a great parody segment where Sofia Vergara (shockingly) oozes sex and George Clooney ends up in bed with Cam and Mitchell, and it was Modern Family‘s night to shine.

3. Temple Grandin – At first I had no clue who this person who kept standing and waving throughout the ceremony as a TV movie, Temple Grandin, kept winning awards (seven in total). I was also distracted by Claire Danes appearing on my television but not in a Latisse commercial. After a quick Google search, I have moved Temple Grandin to the top of my Netflix queue.

4. Betty White, Betty White, Betty White – I love everything about this women. Between her appearance in the opening parody as Jon Hamm’s choreographer and their boundless sexual chemistry, there is nothing this woman can’t do that I won’t adore.

5. Clooney and Margulies reunited – George Clooney receiving the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award is a true honor. He accepted the award with great humor. And of all the people present the last night’s Emmys there was not better person to present the award to him than Juliana Margulies, Clooney’s E.R. co-star for five seasons. Doug and Carol forever!

6. Top Chef beats out The Amazing Race – It is about damn time someone broke The Amazing Race‘s Emmy winning streak. I’m glad it happened now too because I am in a feud with The Amazing Race for reasons I cannot disclose until September 1. But trust me, they are good reasons.

The Worst:

1. Al Pacino speaks and Jack Kevorkian makes an appearance – After Pacino won for his performance in “You Don’t Know Jack”, his speech became a rambling mess. They really don’t cut Pacino off, do they?

2. Fred Savage is dead! – A teaser for the In Memoriam segment (of a young Corey Haim) led many people on the internet to think that it was really Fred Savage.

3. Mad Men doesn’t win an acting award…again – The stellar cast of Mad Men has never won an Emmy. Not Jon Hamm. Or John Slattery. Or January Jones. Or Elisabeth Moss. Or Christina Hendricks. I have my own theories but please feel free to share your own.

4. No love for FNLFriday Night Lights fans must sound like a broken record by now. All we want is for this show to win Emmys and to last more than five seasons. Neither has happened. Even when the lead actors – Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton – are nominated but don’t win, it is a bad Emmys night for us FNL fans. Just remember, clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.

Did I miss anything? Sound off below.

Poster Fix: Mad Men – Season 4

The poster art for Mad Men‘s fourth season is finally here. Although this image is less jaw dropping and powerful than last seasons promo poster, we are told so much about the upcoming season, which premieres July 25.

When we left off last season, Don Draper, Roger Sterling, Bert Cooper and Lane Pryce started their own advertising agency: Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Several of the major characters, Joan, Pete and Peggy, join the new agency. Betty and Don begin their divorce proceedings and Henry Francis helps  Betty prepare for the divorce, joining her on the divorce.

If season three was getting to the bottom of Don Draper’s secrets (remember, Betty finally learned about his true identity) then the fourth season is about Don Draper starting over.

I’m so excited for season 4 to premiere. I have been plowing through seasons 1 and 2 in preparation for July 25. My only request is for SCDP to please bring back Sal. Your agency must need an art director!

Are you ready for television’s best show to return?

Betty Draper Reads The Group

On Sunday’s episode of Mad Men, there is a brief but telling shot of Betty Draper reading Mary McCarthy’s The Group. Betty is seen reading the book in the bath tub. Presumably her children have gone to bed and she is waiting for her husband, the series antihero-hero Don Draper, to return home. This 10-second scene is bookended by a scene of Don in the midst of yet another affair. Talk about subtext.

The Group was published in 1963, the year this season of Mad Men is set. The novel follows the lives of eight Vassar graduates (class of ’33) until the onset of World War II in 1940. The group—Kay, Pokey, Helena, Lakey, Dottie, Polly, Priss and Libby—are first introduced at Kay’s wedding to a New York theater critic and they reunite at her funeral seven years later. McCarthy presents liberal and sometimes conservative views on topics ranging from contraception to social work. This provides an excellent portrayal of the decade.

It is fitting to me that Betty Draper, a trapped suburban housewife and herself a graduate a Seven Sister college (Bryn Mawr) would be drawn this novel. It reflects her relationship to the world as a high society woman, disconnected from reality. It is never revealed in the book whether Kay’s death is accidental or suicide; she dies a woman destroyed by her failed marriage and ruined social standing.

I can’t help but read this as yet another ominous sign for the finale Mad Men‘s third season, which has already been hinted will occur simultaneously with President Kennedy’s assassination. If anything, it provides a deep insight into Betty Draper’s deteriorating state in the wake of her discovery of her husband’s secrets.

Mad Men: Televising the 60s back into fashion

Credit: Ioulia Bespalova
Credit: Ioulia Bespalova
Oprah Winfrey has been busy. The television icon has relaunched her book club, interviewed Whitney Houston and plans shut down downtown Chicago. But the most unexpected of these is a 60s themed episode that aired on Sept. 21. Don’t tell Oprah this, but she is just following a sudden trend to embrace everything 60s thanks to the success of Mad Men. Fashion trends, barware, music and even the surge in sales of Frank O’Hara poetry, can all be contributed to this show.

Mad Men, created and produced by Matthew Weiner, premiered in July 2007. It has received critical acclaim for its historical accuracy, visual style and exceptional cast performances. This past Sunday it was named the Best Television Drama at the 61st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards for the second consecutive year. Now in its third season, Mad Men continues to mesmerize audiences week after week.

Set in the early 1960s, Mad Men follows the employees of Sterling Cooper (a fictional New York City advertising company) and their families. The drama centers around Don Draper (Jon Hamm), Sterling Cooper’s creative director. Draper, a man who creates the falsities of reality, leads a double life where his past is constantly in conflict with his present. Not even his wife Betty (January Jones) knows about his true identity.

While the Drapers and their seemingly perfect but painfully horrible family life drives the series, it is the supporting characters who provide the show with exceptional substance. The best of these characters is of Salvatore Romano (Bryan Blatt), the closeted Art Director for Serling Cooper. This storyline about a taboo of the decade relates the period to current times.

Moreover, in an industry where compelling female characters are few and far between, Mad Men features the best on television; there is Joan (Christina Hendricks), the office manager and her desire for the ideal husband, and Peggy, the only female copywriter, and her aspirations to be a successful working woman. Peggy’s second season storyline about her heartbreaking affair with married accounts executive Pete Campbell is among the show’s most powerful moments. Then there is Betty Draper, deeply pained and destroyed by domesticity and her husband’s infedilities, she clings to the hope that the birth of her third child will create the domestic bliss that she longs for.

As a show dependent on historical accuracy, Mad Men not only revolves around showing the cultural fads, but also explores how the tumultuous time period affected the Americans that lived and shaped it. (It will be thrilling to watch how this show addresses the Civil Rights Movement, which has been rarely addressed so far). Season two ended with many characters not knowing their fate as the Cuban Missile Crisis loomed. It has already been suggested that season three will conclude right around President Kennedy’s assassination–an event that no doubt reflects both overt and subtle distress in the Mad Man of the 1960s.

Mad Men airs Sundays at 10 P.M. on AMC.

Published: Mount Holyoke News
September 24, 2009

Mad Men – Season 2 Premieres Tonight!

Mad Men is another recent discovery of mine. I just decided to rent the first season of a whim and watched all thirteen episodes in less than three days. Less than a week later, there was a first season marathon on AMC so I watched the entire season again.
From the writing and the direction to the characters, everything about this show is just brilliant. Who knew that a show about 1960s advertising agency could be such a compelling drama.
My favorite moment is by far The Carousel scene in the season finale, when Don Draper (played by Jon Hamm) pitches an ad campaign for Kodak:

No wonder it is nominated for 16 Emmys.
If you’re interested, here is a crash course all about Mad Men before tonight’s premiere.