Skip to main content

The Daily Beast: "Mad Men Season 6 Review: Triumphant, Lyrical, and Way Existential"

Mad Men’s Don Draper returns for his penultimate season on AMC Sunday—and he’s as down in the dumps as ever. I write about the dark mood hovering over the show’s brilliant sixth season.

Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "Mad Men Season 6 Review: Triumphant, Lyrical, and Way Existential," in which I review the fantastic sixth season premiere of AMC's Mad Men, which returns on Sunday at 9 p.m. for its penultimate season: "Don isn’t so much a person as a reflection, a shadow, the wet ring left on a bar by a glass of Scotch."

Spoilers are funny things.

It’s tricky enough to write about a show without delving into the plot mechanics, and even more so when you can’t even touch upon certain aspects of the plot in even a cursory way. But that’s always been the case with AMC’s Mad Men, which returns for its sixth—and penultimate—season on Sunday at 9 p.m.

Creator Matthew Weiner wants to ensure that even the most quotidian of details about the plot remain concealed. Members of the press who received an advance copy of the two-hour season premiere were instructed not to reveal several elements about the new season, a detailed list of plot points that are considered verboten. Those restrictions make writing about Mad Men’s beautiful and bravura Season 6 opener (“The Doorway”)—gorgeously written by Weiner and directed by Scott Hornbacher—a minefield of potential missteps, but fortunately not entirely impossible to navigate.

The title is a clue to what is at play within Mad Men’s ambitious sixth season. Doorways are, of course, both a means of entrance and exit, and how you see this portal depends a lot on your state of mind at the time. Are we coming or going? Or, in an existential sense, aren’t we all always coming and going, the world forever on that inexorable loop of birth and death? Issues of mortality carry over from the brilliant (if somewhat polarizing) fifth season, which saw all manner of death imagery swirl around Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and the staffers at Madison Avenue ad agency Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. This emphasis on the transitory nature of life—embodied in last season’s suicide of Lane Pryce (Jared Harris)—looms still over Season 6.

If we are forever on that trajectory—from the womb to the grave—what matters most is perhaps how we spend the time we have, and what we make of ourselves. But for Don Draper, the quick-change chameleon ad man, identity is something fluid and fraught. An admonition to “be yourself” results in nothing but confusion. Who is Don, really? It’s a question that has been posed time and time again throughout the first five seasons of Mad Men, and one that he often answers through the relationships with the women in his life: first wife Betty (January Jones), daughter Sally (Kiernan Shipka), and his latest wife, actress Megan (Jessica ParĂ©). Don isn’t so much a person as a reflection, a shadow, the wet ring left on a bar by a glass of Scotch.

Continue reading at The Daily Beast...

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Katie Lee Packs Her Knives: Breaking News from Bravo's "Top Chef"

The android has left the building. Or the test kitchen, anyway. Top Chef 's robotic host Katie Lee Joel, the veritable "Uptown Girl" herself (pictured at left), will NOT be sticking around for a second course of Bravo's hit culinary competition. According to a well-placed insider, Joel will "not be returning" to the show. No reason for her departure was cited. Unfortunately, the perfect replacement for Joel, Top Chef judge and professional chef Tom Colicchio, will not be taking over as the reality series' host (damn!). Instead, the show's producers are currently scouring to find a replacement for Joel. Top Chef 's second season was announced by Bravo last month, but no return date has been set for the series' ten-episode sophomore season. Stay tuned as this story develops. UPDATE (6/27): Bravo has now confirmed the above story .

Me Want Food: Jenna Gets Famously Fat on "30 Rock"

I don't know about you, but I've already ordered my "Me Want Food" t-shirt from the NBC store. Last night's episode of 30 Rock ("Jack Gets in the Game") was, in my opinion, one of the strongest of the series and has officially pushed the zany comedy into the realm of Arrested Development : deftly plotted and intricately layered, with so many jokes piled atop of jokes that it requires several viewings in order to catch them all. While at its heart, 30 Rock is a workplace comedy, it's left that narrow pigeonhole behind to become a witty example of how intelligent and taut humor can work (and flourish) on television... and exist in harmony with hilarious throwaways like the Thriller -inspired Werewolf Bar Mitzvah music video that would have done the AD crew proud. I want Will Arnett to appear on this series whenever possible. His gay exec Devin is hilarious, manipulative, and has an inexplicable weakness for Kenneth the Page, but he claims to have

"Gilmore" Guy: Who is New Showrunner David Rosenthal?

A few days later and I am still processing the news that Gilmore Girls showrunner Amy Sherman-Palladino--and her exceptionally talented husband, writer and producer Daniel Palladino-- announced their departure from the whip-smart drama after six seasons. The news wouldn't be such a blow, save for the fact that Gilmore Girls is as much about Amy and Daniel as it is about Lorelai and Rory. In their capable hands, the show explored a supremely complicated family dynamic through the beautiful friendship of mother and daughter Lorelai and Rory... and did so with smart dialogue usually found in a Nick & Nora film rather than on television. Zany subplots abounded as did quirky, beloved supporting characters. And now, after six seasons (including this most recent--and very shaky--season where Amy and Daniel wrote less episodes than usual), Amy and Daniel are passing on the showrunning torch to... Dave Rosenthal?!? For those of you in the audience unfamiliar with David Rosenthal ,