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I’ve had season 2 of Mad Men sitting at home for a while now and have yet to muster the courage to watch it, considering my qualms with the first season, though I do hear that season 2 delves deeper into the thematics and characters that interested me the most in season 1. And I guess season 3 is about to start too? And everyfuckingbody in the world has an avatar of themselves in the Mad Men style? So I suppose to combat the slobbering fanboy response to this show I wanted to read a good critique of the show, because I have not seen one. Lo and behold, I have to go across the pond. Far be it from me to give it up to a British paper for taking down an aspect of American culture, but this piece of criticsm is so full of Right Ons:

Mad Men is an unpleasant little entry in the genre of Now We Know Better. We watch and know better about male chauvinism, homophobia, anti-semitism, workplace harassment, housewives’ depression, nutrition and smoking. We wait for the show’s advertising men or their secretaries and wives to make another gaffe for us to snigger over…Mad Men is currently said to be the best and ‘smartest’ show on American TV. We’re doomed.

How it works better as eye candy than intellectual stimulation:

The less you think about the plot the more you are free to luxuriate in the low sofas and Eames chairs, the gunmetal desks and geometric ceiling tiles and shiny IBM typewriters. Not to mention the lush costuming: party dresses, skinny brown ties, angora cardigans, vivid blue suits and ruffled peignoirs, captured in the pure dark hues and wide lighting ranges that Technicolor never committed to film. Sooner or later, though, unless you watch the whole series with the sound off, you will have to face up to the story. It’s a commonplace that portrayal of the past can be used to criticise the present. What of those cases in which criticism of the past is used to congratulate the present? I suppose it does at least expose what’s most pompous and self-regarding in our own time: namely, an unearned pride in our supposed superiority when it comes to health and restraint, the condition of women, and the toleration of (some) difference in ethnicity and sexuality. Mad Men flatters us where we deserve to be scourged.

And finally, an honest takedown of Jon Hamm:

Whether one finds all of this claustrophobic and ludicrous or tightly wound and compelling depends very heavily on one’s opinion of Don Draper. Draper, as written, is a kind of social savant. He knows how to act in every emergency. He deploys strategic fits of temper to attain his ends. He’s catnip to women. As played by Jon Hamm, though, his manner hardly matches his activities. Hamm looks perpetually wimpy and underslept. His face is powdered and doughy. He lacks command. He is witless. The pose that he’s best at, interestingly, is leaning back in his chair; it ought to be from superiority, but it looks as though he is trying to dodge a blow…One never sees hunger or anger in Hamm’s eyes, only the misery of the hunted fox. Either he is playing the hero as a schlub in deference to a 21st-century idea of masculinity as fundamentally hollow and sham, or he’s completely underequipped to convey male menace…In the classic Hollywood cinema, there was a name for the role Hamm should be playing: the Mug, who seems OK at first but in the end has to give up the girl to Cary Grant or Spencer Tracy.

And then there’s the final paragraph, which gets to exactly why Mad Men is so frustrating: This show really can reach a painful level of truth, pathos and tragedy in our country’s imperfect history, but soon after reverts back to the norm of winking, smug condescension. But whatever, it’ll win the Emmy. Friday Night Lights was robbed.

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