Author: pjmaciak

MAD MEN / “The Forecast”

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Jane and Phil wrote about the third episode of Mad Men‘s final season for Dear TV at The Los Angeles Review of Books. Phil said:

“Don’s having so much trouble figuring out what’s next for the agency because he’s asking the question the wrong way. ‘We know where we’ve been, we know where we are,’ he says, and that’s true, but it shouldn’t be in first-person. He can’t tell where he’s going because he isn’t going anywhere. He’s achieved what he will achieve at SC&P — he’s no longer a metonym for the agency. The future is other people. Isn’t that sad? Isn’t that beautiful? Take off your shoes.”

Jane said:

“‘Melodrama offers the hope that it may not be too late,’ writes Linda Williams, ‘that there may still be an archaic sort of virtue, and that virtue and truth can be achieved in private individuals and individual heroic acts rather than […] in revolution and change.’ I sort of like the idea of seeing Glen and Sally’s goodbye as something that doesn’t necessarily have to happen, as something that can happen when either Glen or Sally return home, as something that may not be too late.”

And nobody could get over the rise of #HotGlen…

“Space Station Getzinger” / “Never Too Late”

GAME OF THRONES / “The House of Black and White”

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As usual, Sarah Mesle is covering Game of Thrones for Dear TV. Here she is on the return of Arya Stark:

“Cersei and Ellaria are really two irrational peas in a pod here, aren’t they? I understand that these characters are under a lot of duress, and I’m not saying that their acting itself was shrill or unpleasant (Cersei, in particular, gets almost as much done with her eyebrows as Arya does, and I loved her pissed-off pronunciation of “cit-ties” when she threatened to burn all of Dorne’s down). But these are smart, strategic women, and the script’s decision to write them as shrill, guided by fear and anger in a way that precludes intelligence or ethics, chafed at me. These are women who should draw our respect; instead, the show puts its viewers consistently on the side of beleaguered, ethical, men. Do better, Game of Thrones.”

“50 Shades of Black and White”

MAD MEN / “New Business”

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Jane and Evan wrote about Mad Men‘s “New Business” for LARB:

“Sometimes the show moves so slowly, so conservatively, that those of us indelibly invested in its purported long game have little choice but to see this passivity as stuffed with significance. When it’s hard to see the point,anything might be meaningful. Mad Men has turned me into the most paranoid of viewers.”

A Clean Break” / “Round and Round”

MAD MEN / “Severance”

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We’re covering the final season of Mad Men over at The Los Angeles Review of Books. To start us off, Phil wrote about the return of Rachel Menken:

“We wanted Rachel to come back, but she is not who she is. Something else, something deeper is troubling Don Draper. Time travel isn’t easy even when it’s possible. You can’t see Rachel Menken again; she doesn’t exist anymore.”

…and Lili wrote about what it’s like to keep getting disappointed by this show:

“I want Roger and Joan scenes, and (I’m sorry to say this) but, for dramatic reasons, I want Roger to die. I want the illusion Mad Men offers that erasures are clean to rip the paper it’s written on a little. I want something to matter. Just one little chicken coming home to roost would make it all feel a little less unmoored, a little less pointless as a viewing experience.”

Let us tell you the story of love and hate!

Deep Cuts: Rachel in Furs / Mad Men Fantasies

DEAR TELEVISION: Season One

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The first thing Dear TV ever covered was the first season of Girls, to which we shall return this coming week over at the Los Angeles Review of Books. To receive updates on posts, like our Facebook page! In the meantime, enjoy a stroll down memory lane with this index of our own first season. At the beginning, we only roughly tied our posts to episodes, so, be forewarned:

Episode Five

“Act like my life is real, y’know? Because my life is real.” / Jane

“Testing, Testing” / Evan

“American Nervousness, 2012″ / Phil

Episode Six

“Never Don’t Worry: In Which Dunham Kills Horror” / Lili

“There Is No Lena, Only Zuul” / Phil

“How are things in Ohio?” / Evan

“Call Me, Maybe” / Jane

Episode Seven

“A Theory of Crackuracy” / Phil

“Bushwick Bildungsroman” / Evan

“Turn On, Drop In, Drop Out” / Jane

Episode Eight

“Makeovers, Makeunders, and Makeouts” / Lili

“The Economy of Friendship” / Jane

“Risky Business” / Evan

Episode Nine

“The Eyes of Kathryn Hahn” / Phil

“Killing Carrie Bradshaw” / Lili

Episode Ten

“The Marriage Plot” / Jane

“Bottoms Up” / Phil

DearTV @LARB / WEEK 5

This week, your friends at Dear Television covered episodes of New Girl and The Mindy Project, both of which were helpfully titled, “Halloween.” We also began a new tradition for our syndication at The Los Angeles Review of Books: death matches! From now on, we will not only be writing about issues of gender, class, and adorkability, we’ll also be judging these shows as a Battle of the Thirtysomething Lady Sitcoms. Check us out at the LARB to see who took the crown this week…

NEW GIRL, THE MINDY PROJECT, and the HALLOWEEN SPECIAL

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Jane Hu: Shiny Red Lame Special On how The Mindy Project‘s in-costume episode was a gamble that ended up revealing the new show’s strength and depth:

While New Girl waited an entire season before taking on the Halloween special, Mindy Project aired their first last night, with only three episodes preceding it. The fact that it worked — that it was, at least for me, the best episode yet — speaks to Mindy Project’s success in setting out (and setting up) its characters so that they still speak to us even when dressed up as other characters.

And, furthermore, how Halloween Specials show us the profound joys of being recognized:

Given television’s theatrical and metavisual qualities, Halloween seems more suited to the medium than Christmas. Halloween specials remind us that characters are always already remodeled after prior characters — that they are always already in costume. Last week, Leslie Knope dressed up Rosie the Riveter in Parks and Recreation.

If one missed the reference, the costume and its attendant allusions would fall flat. Given that Parks & Rec jokes frequently rely on cultural references, however, one would suspect that its dedicated viewers would have easily recognized Rosie… New Girl and Mindy Project did the same. Jokes about Woody Allen! Jokes about Woody Allen’s tribute to the Marx Brothers! Diane from Cheers! Josh dresses up as Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride, since it’s Mindy’s favorite film. But when Mindy quotes from the film, Josh doesn’t recognize it — and Josh is, like, really white.

Oh, Josh.

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Lili Loofbourow: Peanuts and the Perils of the Perfect Costume On how The Mindy Project locked it down this week:

Romantic comedies are like ice-skating (or, you know, any other sport): you know what you’re going to get, but the pleasure lives in the virtuosic disruptions of the format. QUADRUPLE-LUTZ! NO-HITTER! Kaling’s pulling this off, delivering solid formula along with some genuinely impressive moves. The show’s pleasure is as much in its grace notes as in the overfamiliar melody (“the brown Bridget Jones,” as Subashini Navaratnam put it). Scenes that should be throwaways do a little extra work.

And on how one of those throwaway exchanges helped crystallize Mindy Lahiri as a character:

When Mindy puts a jabbering kid on the phone, we all know what the next move is and what this scene is meant to tell us. Mindy will be good or bad with kids and that will show us A) how selfish she is and B) how much she wants kids (and therefore a man). That’s the point of kids in sitcoms about thirty-something women. That is the only way we’ve ever seen these chess pieces move with respect to each other. But no — Mindy actually sees this kid…Mindy’s childishness, her selfishness, her self-centeredness, all have the interesting side effect of letting her be a better friend because she’s not performing goodness. She’s refusing the Goodness Scoreboard. That’s an interesting brand of unlikeability.

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Phil Maciak: Good Grief On how New Girl is strong on character/weak on plot, and Mindy Project is the opposite:

How on earth is it possible that a 30-year-old woman, growing up in America with an encyclopedic knowledge of romantic comedies and a television addiction — Mindy Kaling, in other words, who just executive produced an episode of television based around the message of It’s a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown — has never heard of Peanuts? Who is Mindy Lahiri? Who are any of these people?

And on how hard it is for these two shows to create original characters from the set of archetypes and stale formats given to them by television and rom-com history:

The hot doctor. The spinster with no prospects. The man who goes where he wants, when he wants. The cool witty girl who kind of kills it in bed. The douche. The psycho. The dork. In their least interesting moments, the characters on these shows exist as either embodiments or comical inverses of these types. At their best, these characters mama-bird their types — ingesting them and regurgitating them in new forms. (Sorry.)

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Get up in the comments section at LARB as we track more quadruple-lutzes, possible no-hitters, and missed Peanuts references this week!