Mad Men Gone Schizoid

From First Thoughts

Season Seven, Episode Five (“The Runaways”): A very disjointed episode of Mad Men. Don Draper is marginal to most of its action; two watchable characters (Roger Sterling and Joan Harris) are absent from it entirely; and we endure two eruptions of gratuitous weirdness, one in the form of kinky sex, the other in the form of sexualized mutilation. Altogether, we find the story de-centered and distinctly schizoid. Continue Reading »

Megan Must Go

From First Thoughts

Season Seven, Episode Three: A very eventful episode of Mad Men. Two story arcs move us forward, though one (strangely compelling one) does not. Are Don and Megan Draper finally over? In the major arc before the first commercial break, Don speaks long-distance to Megan’s agent and learns that . . . . Continue Reading »

For Love or Money

From First Thoughts

Episode Two of this season’s Mad Men could have been titled “For Love or Money.” On Valentine’s Day 1969, some of the folks at Sterling, Cooper & Partners are clearly doing their jobs just for the money. Others are doing their jobs for love of the job, or for love of someone on the job. Continue Reading »

Ascetic Aesthetics

From Web Exclusives

One Hopkins is enough,” said the poet A. D. Hope. By this he meant: Enough with the oohs and ahs over beautiful creation, enough with the “arch-especial” and the “sweet especial,” enough with “all this juice and all this joy” and all the “froth and waterblowballs” and “ah! bright wings”—which allegedly are what we talk about when we talk about the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Continue Reading »

Mad Men Returns

From First Thoughts

The first half of Season Seven of AMC’s Mad Men (the back half will drop in 2015) opened Sunday night with a familiar character addressing the camera, thus: “Are you ready? Because I want you to pay attention. This is the beginning of something.” It is the beginning of the . . . . Continue Reading »

Close Viewing

From Web Exclusives

The seventh and final season of AMC’s Mad Men premiered last night to a viewership quite different from the one that greeted the series’s 2007 debut. The inflection point came last season—when, improbably, this slow-moving character-driven period piece began to stir its partisans . . . . Continue Reading »

Ready to Tie It Off

From First Thoughts

Episode Seven of HBO’s True Detective depicts our chastened heroes in a chastened style. Gone is the murky intercutting among the 1995 flashbacks, the 2002 flashbacks, and the parallel interviews of 2012—the formal deviousness that caused us to doubt not only what the truth might be in . . . . Continue Reading »