Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Sunday 2015: And Mad Men's Era Begins Its Descent into TV History

This is not today's table, but a picture of the lovely dining room of the bed & breakfast I stayed in in Antrain, France, for my polyphony workshop. It captures a chic Easter-ness for me, in that effortlessly French kind of way. Happy Easter to all who celebrate (and to the Jews, "nice try"--funny line on Saturday Night Live Weekend Update last night!)

The Madness Starts to End

Today is a unique Easter Sunday in the annals of this Christian celebration because it is also the premiere of the second half of the last season of Mad Men.  Don & company certainly look dressed for Easter, circa late '60s/early '70s. 

As a fan of Burn Notice, I found an interesting comparison between the series when I was researching Michael and Fiona, not Don and Betty/Megan/Suzanne/Midge/Faye, etc.
Burn Notice  made its debut during the first summer of Mad Men (AMC), with .006 percent of its buzz but an audience many times its size. 
Gina Bellafante, Jan. 2009, The New York Times

And that audience size has remained relatively small: 

        'Mad Men' brings prestige, if not powerful ratings, to AMC

        Frank Pallotta for ABC, April, 2015.

What the audience lacks in size it makes up for in passion.  Personally I found the first two seasons excruciatingly slow.  All style, with a very compelling & tantalizing lead in Don Draper and the early, interesting 'who is he?' but overall the storytelling lacked momentum. I enjoyed the later seasons more, but have never loved the series. 

What I love is the community around the series, starting with the live blogging that my good friend Tom Watson and I did at the beginning, way back in 2007 before Twitter took over. I have written 25 posts on Mad Men, covering a lot of pop culture from many angles. And I still eagerly wait for recaps from Matt Zoller Seitz and Alan Sepinwall, and for the comments on both sites.

As for Don? Of all the Sundays that Matt Weiner could have brought back MM, it turns out to be Easter Sunday, the very definition of redemption. The series has not explored much of Don's spiritual side, maybe this coinciding signals redeeming of some sort will be a theme for the end of the story.

And of course, we're all very interested in what that final episode will be, how Weiner will end his story, though I am a firm believer in the Wimsatt's Intentional Fallacy: the author is not the oracle. What he intends, is not necessarily what happens, or what a reasonable audience reads. For me,  there is no question that Tony Soprano is dead.  I also believe that Walter White died in that car in New Hampshire, and the eerie, oddly lit last scenes where he visited key people in his life and tried to make amends is in his head as he is freezing to death.

All to say that I don't care as much about the character of Don Draper as I do the ending of one of the most distinct series on the TV landscape.

And because it still is Easter Sunday, I share a picture of my dad, back in his own #MadMen time before the crazy plaids descended. (I seem to be under siege by a very big bow.)