Archive for the 'Television' Category


why I hate Don Draper, and can’t stop watching

I’ll admit I’m kind of a latecomer as far as Mad Men is concerned.

Heard about it now and again for a while, but didn’t start watching it until about 6 months ago. Caught up through Season 4 on Netflix, and then waited, and waited, . . .  and waited. . . . . . . for Season 5. Just noticed a couple of weeks ago that it was available, I believe the day before Season 6 started airing on AMC, so have been playing a frantic game of catch-up.

Some of it is a bit overblown, although I wonder if it seems overblown in the “enlightened” two-thousand-teens  compared to what it was really like in the 60s. (ha!) I fear that maybe it’s not overblown at all.  I do especially love the depiction of Peggy and Joan in their efforts to be taken seriously as professional (women) while not really wanting to give up actually being perceived as actual women. Unfortunately some of their battles don’t seem all that different from battles still being fought.

But except for Henry, all of the men are pleasepardonmyFrench assholes. And of course, Henry, not being an asshole, is married to a woman who is so bored she’s gained 30 pounds. (Of course, within 2 episodes, she’s lost it all, despite the “half pound a week” or “maintaining” progress noted during her Weight Watcher’s meetings.)(No one said it was a true story.)


But Don. What’s to be done about Don.

The writers do a good job of, just when you have decided that Don has no redeeming qualities at all, re-humanizing him. He displayed great sympathy (albeit in retrospect) for Peggy when she unexpectedly  —  to her and everyone else (really? she didn’t know she was pregnant? this is a reasonably smart woman, how would you not know you were pregnant?) — had a baby, gave it up for adoption, and suffered some kind of breakdown afterwards. He displayed great empathy when he went to Joan to tell her not to sleep with a potential deal-maker-or-breaker for a new ad campaign (too late, but he didn’t know that at the time).

We get to see him wrestle with his demons — his dead-too-soon prostitute mother, his resentful, dishonest father, his disillusionment with his chosen career despite his virtuosity at it, his need to be taken care of and his refusal to be vulnerable. But he is newly married to a stunning woman, Megan, (who adores him), and still needs (?) to have an affair with the doctor’s wife downstairs. This is the wife of a doctor he has befriended; a woman who has offered understanding and sympathy to Megan despite the fact that she is SLEEPING WITH HER HUSBAND, and then humbly admits that she has no right to be jealous.

The fact that Don was faithful while Megan was working at the agency with him, and still when she was basically staying at home while pursuing an acting career at which he had no faith in her ever succeeding reveals his vulnerability. The fact that the day she acted in her first professional role he apparently (it was only implied) resumed his previous role as a five-star cheating sleazeball is also probably supposed to reveal this vulnerability. I wonder if it is the writer’s goal that this also seems to reveal his complete lack of maturity and character. Probably. Maybe this is the kind of nuance that keeps me watching. Or maybe I’m making more of it than there is.

I will also admit that I am still completely puzzled by the bizarre scene when Megan was upset with Don because he was unhappy about her throwing him a surprise party, so she begins cleaning up the apartment in her black, lacy bra and panties while scolding Don like a shrew. Don was oddly turned on, apparently as much by the scolding as by the attire. What he actually needs is his mother?

The depiction of the struggle of women to find their place both professionally and in the home is compellingly told. Many of the wives seem to know that their husbands are unfaithful — how could they not, really? — but don’t mind as long as they’re discrete. (Pete’s busted as of last night. What a whining sycophant he is. I still can’t figure out why Don brought him along when they began their new agency. He clearly loathes him, as do we all, and as we should, although he displayed a bit of humanity toward one of the women he had an affair with, but that hardly counts. I guess he’s good at what the agency needs him for — to be a sycophant.)

Joan could gain more of my sympathy if she didn’t use her feminine (ahem) qualities so blatantly — could her dress be any tighter? Could she sway her hips any more when she walks? She is a partner now (albeit for nefarious reasons, see paragraph 6 above), does she still have to wear that pen around her neck so it dangles right there between her quite ample bosoms? It reminds me of my post once about this “professional” outfit in Victoria’s Secret:


Nothing like a bandeau top to tell the world to take women seriously in the workplace.

I do love that she is a full-bodied, fearless, ambitious woman playing the role of a real person, living comfortably and happily in her skin and not wishing she were a stick. Maybe we should just focus on that.

CHRISTINA HENDRICKS at Promo Shoot for Mad Men Season 5

All part of the idiom I guess.

And I can’t stop watching.


My letter to Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey

(Spoiler alert: Don’t read if it’s possible that you don’t actually know what happened on last night’s Downton Abbey episode and would like to be surprised. If that is the case, you might want to sequester yourself in your basement with some DVDs pretty darn quick, cuz there’s just no flippin’ way you’re going to get through the next few days and not find out that [gulp] died.)

Dear Mr. Fellowes:

(Do they use the Pre- “Mr.” in England? Or is something like Guv’ner? anyway. . .)

Yes, he’s gorgeous.

Yes, he and Mary had a special spark, just the right chemistry.

And then there were his eyes, and his accent, and the fact that it was completely believable that he loved Mary “madly,” despite the fact that she was sharp-tongued and cynical. I was actually coming to like her a little bit myself, seen through his eyes.

But was this really the only way? I understand that the actor wanted out of his contract, but he is, in fact, playing a role, and I find it hard to believe that he’s the only actor in the world interested in and/or capable of, playing this particular part.

It seems to me that you just didn’t want to try that hard. You know, aud-i-tions and all that. (Sigh.)

Yes, we might have flinched for a few seconds at the beginning of the first episode of Season 4 — Who? What? That’s supposed to be Matthew? But we would have gotten over it, much more quickly than we can get over the fact that you have taken the difficulties of childbirth in the early 20th century to extend to the fathers. (To quote one of my favorite bloggers: “Is it not possible for a baby to be born on Downton Abbey and not lose one of its parents?”)

Really. You must do better. There’s something like 4,517,895 hours of absolute crap on television right now each and every week, and we don’t have that much to look forward to. Please don’t push us so far that we resort to watching reruns of West Wing for the third time around.

Thank you,

Your less-a-fan-than-we-used-to-be fans.


sex sells

Even Kias, the ultimate “family” car.

Am I the only one who’s tired of women’s bodies being used to sell EVERYTHING? I guess it’s supposed to be acceptable because he’s “only” dreaming, and he “rescues” his wife from the handsome interloper on the white horse at the end.

But still, what does this

or this

have to do with owning a midsize sedan?

I know, I know, it’s advertising, the whole point of which is to convince us that if we buy this thing or use this shampoo we will be sexy and desirable;

(just look at the adoration with which she is gazing at him as he drives away in his stodgy-white-middle-aged-man car)

but I’M SO TIRED of women’s bodies being the primary selling point.

Besides, the premise is ridiculous. You’re a pasty-faced, middle-aged, middle class worker bee. She’s just not that into you.

I guess I could be comforted by the fact that the rest of this man-fantasy involves a giant sub sandwich and Motley Crue signaling their approval as he drives through their performance arena (likethatwouldeverhappen); and then some cowboy riding a rhino. . .a little bizarre, but logical in some kind of a surreal way.

I know, I should stop being such a feminist fuddy-duddy. Or maybe I should just stop watching television.


another one of life’s persistent questions

Which is funnier?

Inquiring minds want to know.


TV Watching Rises

This, according to an article in the NYTimes.

I have just one question: What is everyone watching? Everything I run across looks like absolute garbage.



dumber than a sack of . . . ? (fill in the blank)

The other side of the story:

For this one, skip to 2:37


And now, an opportunity for her to speak for herself.  This has to be the only politician who can be made fun of merely by quoting her directly.


politics and the “media”

I am still kind of in shock that the Supreme Court has ruled that companies can give money freely to political candidates in the name of free speech. At least now I know that I am not the only one who thinks that the money polluting our political system is the biggest obstacle to true democracy. And any illusion of Fox News being “fair and balanced” has to be put to rest — unless they want to hire 4 of the top 5 Democratic candidates and give them equal air time. What are the chances of that do you suppose?  We’re being bought and sold, lied to and manipulated, all in the name of capitalism and (irony alert) free speech. That is, if you call millions of dollars in ads, salaries, consulting fees and donations “free.”

What are we going to do about it?

Op-Ed Columnist

Paul Krugman

Fear and Favor

A note to Tea Party activists: This is not the movie you think it is. You probably imagine that you’re starring in “The Birth of a Nation,” but you’re actually just extras in a remake of “Citizen Kane.”


Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

True, there have been some changes in the plot. In the original, Kane tried to buy high political office for himself. In the new version, he just puts politicians on his payroll.

I mean that literally. As Politico recently pointed out, every major contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination who isn’t currently holding office and isn’t named Mitt Romney is now a paid contributor to Fox News. Now, media moguls have often promoted the careers and campaigns of politicians they believe will serve their interests. But directly cutting checks to political favorites takes it to a whole new level of blatancy.

Arguably, this shouldn’t be surprising. Modern American conservatism is, in large part, a movement shaped by billionaires and their bank accounts, and assured paychecks for the ideologically loyal are an important part of the system. Scientists willing to deny the existence of man-made climate change, economists willing to declare that tax cuts for the rich are essential to growth, strategic thinkers willing to provide rationales for wars of choice, lawyers willing to provide defenses of torture, all can count on support from a network of organizations that may seem independent on the surface but are largely financed by a handful of ultrawealthy families.

And these organizations have long provided havens for conservative political figures not currently in office. Thus when Senator Rick Santorum was defeated in 2006, he got a new job as head of the America’s Enemies program at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a think tank that has received funding from the usual sources: the Koch brothers, the Coors family, and so on.

Now Mr. Santorum is one of those paid Fox contributors contemplating a presidential run. What’s the difference?

Well, for one thing, Fox News seems to have decided that it no longer needs to maintain even the pretense of being nonpartisan.

Nobody who was paying attention has ever doubted that Fox is, in reality, a part of the Republican political machine; but the network — with its Orwellian slogan, “fair and balanced” — has always denied the obvious. Officially, it still does. But by hiring those G.O.P. candidates, while at the same time making million-dollar contributions to the Republican Governors Association and the rabidly anti-Obama United States Chamber of Commerce, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, which owns Fox, is signaling that it no longer feels the need to make any effort to keep up appearances.

Something else has changed, too: increasingly, Fox News has gone from merely supporting Republican candidates to anointing them. Christine O’Donnell, the upset winner of the G.O.P. Senate primary in Delaware, is often described as the Tea Party candidate, but given the publicity the network gave her, she could equally well be described as the Fox News candidate. Anyway, there’s not much difference: the Tea Party movement owes much of its rise to enthusiastic Fox coverage.

As the Republican political analyst David Frum put it, “Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us, and now we are discovering we work for Fox” — literally, in the case of all those non-Mitt-Romney presidential hopefuls. It was days later, by the way, that Mr. Frum was fired by the American Enterprise Institute. Conservatives criticize Fox at their peril.

So the Ministry of Propaganda has, in effect, seized control of the Politburo. What are the implications?

Perhaps the most important thing to realize is that when billionaires put their might behind “grass roots” right-wing action, it’s not just about ideology: it’s also about business. What the Koch brothers have bought with their huge political outlays is, above all, freedom to pollute. What Mr. Murdoch is acquiring with his expanded political role is the kind of influence that lets his media empire make its own rules.

Thus in Britain, a reporter at one of Mr. Murdoch’s papers, News of the World, was caught hacking into the voice mail of prominent citizens, including members of the royal family. But Scotland Yard showed little interest in getting to the bottom of the story. Now the editor who ran the paper when the hacking was taking place is chief of communications for the Conservative government — and that government is talking about slashing the budget of the BBC, which competes with the News Corporation.

So think of those paychecks to Sarah Palin and others as smart investments. After all, if you’re a media mogul, it’s always good to have friends in high places. And the most reliable friends are the ones who know they owe it all to you.



Have any of you made the mistake of buying one of these TVs? We own two. The one “we” use (meaning the resident adults in the household) takes its own sweet time coming on. There are all kinds of pretty screens, blues and pinks and stripes and kind of chalky cloudy tones, which morph and fade in and out and sometimes become a blinding white light that I trust does not mean I’m about to meet my maker. We actually wondered tonight if we should play a game: we’ll watch another episode of West Wing if we’re still awake when the TV actually comes on.

The one downstairs, for the “children,” seems to be working fine. We’ve considered trading them, when nobody’s home. Then we can watch TV when we want to, and when they come up and complain about theirs we can berate them: “What? You broke the TV? Well, you’ll have to pay for it.”

Probably couldn’t do it with a straight face, though, which means we’d never get away with it.

Guess we’ll probably have to buy a new one, although the joy we feel when it does come on is hard to replicate in day-to-day living. Plus I don’t want to spend money on a TV; I want to buy clothes on sale at Garnet Hill and those slouchy black suede boots at Macy’s.



Thirteen channels of shit on the TV to choose from

Except now it’s 99, and there’s still nothing to watch.

How are they selling any advertising? Do people actually watch this stuff? There’s NOTHING on.

Guess it’s time to give in and buy the series collections of DVDs for West Wing and Seinfeld.



Get Lost!

I can’t believe I gave up 6 years of my life watching this show, victim of its convoluted story lines and deliberately misleading plot twists, only to have the whole thing reduced to a simple triumph of good-over-evil culminating in a secular version of heaven.

Really? That’s the best they could come up with?

I feel cheated, robbed, and/or manipulated.

I had this whole ending worked out, where each character was given the opportunity to pick which of their two current manifestations they preferred, and allowed to live their lives out in that path.

But no. . .go towards the light! go towards the light!


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