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Showing posts with the label Mad Men

The Daily Beast: "2012 Emmy Nomination Snubs & Surprises"

The nominations are out: Homeland, Downtown Abbey , and Girls get their shot at the awards, while The Good Wife, Community, Louie, Justified , and many others are shut out. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "2012 Emmy Nomination Snubs & Surprises," in which I discuss which shows and actors were snubbed by the TV Academy as well as a few surprise nominations. Plus, view our gallery of the nominees . The Television Academy has today announced its nominations for the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards and, looking at the list, you may be forgiven for thinking that every single member of the casts of Downton Abbey and Modern Family had walked away with nominations. (It just seems that way.) AMC’s Mad Men and FX’s American Horror Story tied for the most nominations, with 17 apiece, while PBS’ cultural phenomenon Downton Abbey—which shifted from the miniseries category into Best Drama this year—grabbed 16 nominations (tying with History’s Hatfields &

The Phantom: Thoughts on the Season Finale of Mad Men

"Are you alone?" I had a feeling that there would be some discontent among the viewers of Mad Men when faced with the finale of Season Five, after such a breathtaking and momentous episode as last week's "Commissions and Fees," which saw the death of one character and featured startling and concrete change. Airing directly after, the season finale ("The Phantom"), written by Jonathan Igla and Matthew Weiner and directed by Matthew Weiner, could feel a bit anti-climactic. To me, however, "The Phantom" offers a necessary coda for the fifth season, paying off the season's diverse themes and allowing the viewer to see the after-effects of the suicide of Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) on both Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and the firm as a whole, exploring the ways in which we seek out what we believe will offer us happiness--however temporary or fleeting--in order to assuage the rot inside us. Once we achieve the thing that we dreamed about and want

The Daily Beast: "Mad Men Season Five's 13 Most Memorable Moments"

Troubled Don! Ascendant Peggy! Poor Lane! Following the finale of a controversial season of Mad Men on Sunday night, I examine the 13 most memorable moments from its fifth season. At The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Mad Men Season Five's 13 Most Memorable Moments," in which I explore and analyze 13 of the fifth season's most memorable moments, including two from the season finale ("The Phantom"). Mad Men’s fifth season, which came to a close on Sunday, began with the joy and optimism felt by newlyweds Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré), only to slowly let in a narrative darkness that manifested itself in squandered dreams, hopeless enterprises, larceny, and even the death of a major character. Husbands and wives warred, ex-spouses sniped, children grew into adults, and partners fell out. This all played out against a backdrop of monumental social and political change during which Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce hired its f

Elegant Exits: Commissions and Fees on Mad Men

"Everything you think is going to make you happy just turns to crap." If that's not a statement about Mad Men 's major themes, I don't know what is. While it's outsider Glen Bishop (Marten Holden Weiner) who utters those words at the end of the episode, they could be said by just about any character on the drama, offering a prism through which to see that our expectations are often dashed against the rocks when faced with the reality of our situations. Happiness, as Don Draper (Jon Hamm) would argue, just begets more happiness, but more importantly, the sensation of happiness demands further happiness. It's elusive and short-lived and, as one gets older, the simple things that might have once made us joyful--driving a car, an illicit cup of coffee with tons of sugar--turn to ash in our mouths. Happiness, it seems, is as much about anticipation as it is expectation. When things fail to match up to the ideal we set in our heads--an ideal established by D

The Chain: The Other Women on Mad Men

"At last, something beautiful you can truly own." At what price are we willing to sell our selves, our souls, our bodies? Is there a price or, for some, can we walk away knowing that we weren't able to be bought, no matter how much money was thrown into our faces? Or, for women in the 1960s, was there always someone who owned you outright, a pretty jaguar to be possessed whether you were wife or mistress? This week's installment brought these issues to the forefront, rendering an episode that was largely about the heartbreakingly quotidian objectification of women in the 1960s, as Joan (Christina Hendricks) prostitutes herself for a shot at a named partnership at SDCP, Megan (Jessica Paré) is reduced to a piece of meat at an audition, and Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) manages to leave Don after he literally throws money in her face. These three stories are threaded around the pitch for Jaguar, which itself deals in issues of objectification, ownership, and an easy misogy

Enterprise: Dancing Around the Issue on Mad Men

"You used to love your work." One of the thematic ribbons running through Mad Men has been the notion of how one either balances their work and home lives, attempts to merge them, or jeopardizes one through the pursuit of the other. Work is, well, work. It's something that might define us--especially several of the characters on Mad Men --but is also a means to an end ("That's what the money is for!") in terms of both financial stability, security, and glory. The modern hero's quest, one could argue, is a capitalist one: the accumulation of wealth and fame the end goal, things like family and relationships the necessary sacrifices along the way. On this week's episode of Mad Men ("Christmas Waltz"), written by Victor Levin and Matthew Weiner and directed By: Michael Uppendahl, the entire episode largely revolved around the notion of enterprise, both in a literal and figurative sense, with several characters engaged in risky, speculat

Other People's Lives: Lady Lazarus on Mad Men

“You’re everything I hoped you’d be.” It's easy to construct an elaborate fantasy in our heads about who we are or what we want. It's even easier to apply that fantasy to the people around us, particularly our spouses, to imagine that they're the individuals that we believe them to be: glittering paragons of ideals and loyalty, intelligence and honor, determination and resolve. We see them as the best and most perfect aspects of ourselves because we want to. Those people shape our own perception of the world, existing as concrete foundations in our false notion of "reality," seemingly never shifting or changing. But when they do, when faced with reality and the knowledge that they're perhaps not the people we thought them to be, it's as much of an existential crisis as learning you're not who you thought you were or came from where you believed. In this week's stunning episode of Mad Men ("Lady Lazarus"), written by Matthew Weiner

Future Perfect: Doomed Expectations on Mad Men

"Some things never change." And some things do. This week's fantastic episode of Mad Men ("At the Codfish Ball"), written by Jonathan Igla and directed by Michael Uppendahl, had its eye on the future, with several characters contemplating the shifting mores of 1966 as they--and the viewers--were confronted by traditional values rubbing against modernity. But, as the episode itself depicts, things do change and they have to. Society may march on with some of those rigid structures intact but with it comes progress as well, and the sense of change and of the future is embodied in the characters of Peggy (Elisabeth Moss), Megan (Jessica Paré), and Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka) here, each of whom undergoes a transformation of sorts (whether physical, psychological, or social) before the installment ends. The entire notion of the campaign envisioned by Megan toys with the notion that certain things never really change, whether it be spaghetti, beans, or a mo

The Trip: Far Away Places on Mad Men

“Every time we fight, it just diminishes this a little bit..." There was a definite feel of Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction to the latest installment of Mad Men , ("Far Away Places"), written by Semi Chellas and Matthew Weiner and directed by Scott Hornbacher, as the show went into uncharted territory, giving the viewer a series of interlocking and parallel stories that folded in on themselves, narrative origami that delved into the nature of truth and honesty, as well as perception. Laced with LSD, the episode may prove to be a divisive one: part of the effort depended on just how quickly one realized that the triptych's stories were occurring simultaneously and that there was a reset each time between the three plots (Peggy, Roger, Don). (Otherwise, you may have felt that you yourself had taken something.) But there is also inherent interest to be had in pulling apart why these three individuals were cast in these particular stories, all of which revolved