On Mad Men

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Mad Men has generated an inordinate amount of think pieces this week. It’s overwhelming to say the least. While I certainly don’t need to contribute another aside to the story, a few thoughts about this show keep percolating in my mind.

For one, there is something different Mad Men’s public discourse – every commentary is able to find a different angle about the show or to highlight one last piece of hidden meaning that is still lingering behind each frame. This culture of commentary speaks to the complexity and nuance of each episode, every word of dialogue, each painstakingly, slow, frustrating bit of character development. (Come on, Trudy. Don’t let Pete play you like that, again.)

In many ways, I think the critiques a single episode of Mad Men can generate might be its best legacy. This series about a specific time in media history and American culture has not only elevated the medium of television itself but also taken television criticism in new directions. A decade from now, when every culture critic revisits the legacy of Mad Men, the conversations we have been having today will remain as thought-provoking as ever. (I can almost guarantee it will be Peggy Olsen and her story – not Don Draper’s – we will be most concerned with by then.)

Don Draper, more than any other Mad Men character, isn’t a character at all. He’s a symbol, something created and embellished through advertising. So much about him – his past and his future – is left unanswered.

This is why Mad Men has generates legitimate conspiracy theories and it is these conspiracies that separate Mad Men from Breaking Bad or The Wire. These conspiracy theories make the public discourse surrounding Mad Men fascinating and surreal. The theories range from absurd to completely plausible. They’re funny and carefully thought out. Above all, they are an expression of basic human desires.

We are naturally driven to be curious and seek out the truth. There has to be more to every story. (This is partially why fanfiction exists. The writers left something out and it becomes up to fans to fill in the blanks.)

But the beauty of being human is that you can never know everything. It’s impossible. And yet, that can’t be all there is. There has to be some hidden, profound truths behind a glass of red wine spilled on Don Draper’s white carpet.

The desire to know every detail about Mad Men, to find meaning behind every prop, to craft unlikely scenarios, also says a great deal about the nuance of the show itself. Mad Men relishes in time and banality and the ordinary nature of space. The slowness of an episode’s structure is deliberate and it drives audiences insane. For those of us who have spent 92 episodes devouring every detail of Mad Men’s world, there has to be more. Except there never is more.

I have my own ideas how Mad Men could end but none of them are likely or worth writing about.

As the series comes to an end tonight, I see this show as nothing more than a profound reflection on every day life. Mad Men may be set decades in the past but the feelings and experiences are immensely relatable for today’s audiences. (Human nature, like the story arcs on Mad Men, slowly evolves.) The characters will continue existing in this fictional universe we won’t be privy to anymore. Any similarities to Sharon Tate or D.B. Cooper are just coincidence. And that’s it. That’s how it all ends. But we’re all better for having experienced the subtle richness of this television show. It’s hard to imagine there will be any series like Mad Men again.

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.

The 2010 Emmy Nominations

I am generally pleased by the Emmy nominations, which were announced this morning. New comedies Glee and Modern Family received 19 and 14 nominations respectively. For the 10th year in a row, HBO led the nominations receiving 101 nominations in total.

I practically did cartwheels throughout my house when I saw that Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler were FINALLY nominated for Friday Night Lights. While the show itself and Zach Gilford were not nominated, I will take the nominations of Coach and Mrs. Taylor as a victory for what has been one of the most under appreciated shows of recent years. There is still one more season for which the show can be nominated and perhaps these two nominations will lead to Friday Night Lights finally getting it’s Emmys due next year.

The other two nominations that have made me completely ecstatic are Chris Colfer and Mike O’Malley for their work on Glee. Everyone fully expected Lea Michele, Matthew Morrison, and Jane Lynch to be nominated for their roles; they have been dominating the t.v. award circuit since the Golden Globes. But Colfer, who plays Kurt, and O’Malley, who plays his dad Burt, are genuine and much-welcomed surprises. See, the Emmys do celebrate great characters and great acting.

These are the main highlights for me. As for what I think was overlooked…

  • Courteney Cox, Busy Phillips, and Cougar Town. With one sentence: “What kind of skank where’s a watch?” Cougar Town had me hooked. Of course, it does desperately need a name change. Maybe that is why the Emmys turned a blind eye to the series.
  • Joel McHale and Community. Although the show started off slow but once it found its rhythm, Community definitely belonged in NBC’s Thursday night comedy line-up.
  • Ed O’Neill. Please explain to me how every other actor on Modern Family was nominated except O’Neill.
  • No love for Ugly Betty‘s great last season.
  • And for the love of God, why is Tony Shalhoub still being nominated? Ditto for Jon Cryer. Sometimes, I wish there would be a cap on how many times an actor can be nominated for the same tired role. (Of course that would be pointless and impossible since everything is subjective.)

The complete list of Emmy nominees is after the jump. Sound off in the comments section if you are generally pleased or infuriated by this year’s nominations.

Continue reading “The 2010 Emmy Nominations”

A Case of Mad Men Withdrawal

I am suffering from Mad Men withdrawal. It is a severe medical condition. It is so severe that I am considering going to a local bar, ordering an old fashioned and testing any one of these pick up lines.

Are you willing to try any of these pick up lines?

I’m in love with the delivery of “I’m Ken…Cosgrove…accounts.”

Just picture me: “I’m Joanna…Arcieri…unemployed recent college graduate.”

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?