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Monday, October 13, 2008


Utterly Unnecessary Self-Justification

Lately, a lot of my reading has consisted of books I checked out of the library. This is good for a number of reasons, among which are that, in times of economic uncertainty, it makes less and less sense to drop $24.95 on the new Nick Hornby novel--an example I use not because I'm under the mistaken impression that Hornby has a new book out (he doesn't) but because he's an author whose work I generally like but who has written a few books for which I've regretted paying full price--instead of putting that money toward, say, food. There's also the reason that, if you buy a book, you are basically contractually obligated to finish it. You're doubly moronic if you not only throw money away on a lame book, but then don't even have the guts to get all the way through it. (Few things have tormented me like the copy of The Autobiography of Santa Claus, which sat on a shelf mocking me for two years. Jesus, what a chunk of shit.)

Checking out a book from the library has allowed me the freedom to not finish a book if I can't stand it. For instance, it was a real slog trying to make myself take interest in A Confederacy of Dunces. I tried. It's a "classsic", after all. But I just didn't care for it.

I've brought the same completist attitude toward my television viewing. If I started out liking something enough to tune in, I've often just kept it on the DVR and choked down episodes I didn't actually like. It's even worse if it's a show that I know I'm supposed to like.

Which brings me to Mad Men.

Now, I started watching this show last season, not because of the critical acclaim, but because the advertising campaign made it look so cool. And it's a good show. It's soapy, but not hideously. It's got all kinds of nifty period details. It's got some solid acting.

But it's also got a lead character who repeatedly cheats on his wife. I can't abide that. I don't know why, precisely, but I've always had a hard time watching movies or TV shows with cheating characters. It just bugs me. My wife dragged me to watch Unfaithful a few years back and it was torturous. It's pretty simple, folks, if you're that unhappy in your marriage, you leave. Otherwise, you keep it in your fucking pants. I just lose all sympathy for a character when they cheat.

So the lead character in Mad Men, who is an interesting, complex character, well-played by a guy who was nominated for an Emmy for the part, is a philanderer and it ruins it for me. I'm so bugged by it that the entire season has been sitting in my DVR queue, unwatched.

I've finally made the decision that I'm just gonna erase them. Good TV or not, it's not like I'm paying for it, so why should I feel like I have no choice but to watch? Fuck it. I'm gonna watch a bunch of Laverne & Shirley re-runs instead.

I feel the say way about infidelity in film and tv, except that it doesn't bar me from watching.

I just root against the idiots will all my fiber.
They've been pretty forthright about the consequences of his/all of the infidelity this season, though I'm not sure if this alleviates your reservations with the show...

To me, Mad Men's treatment of the institution of marriage is a condemnation of what was happening back then (which has changed over the years/generations), where people would marry young, have kids quickly, and eventually, the constrictions they placed on themselves seem like a prison they need to bust out of: whether that takes the form of infidelity, alcoholism, or both.

This season has seen this come to fruition, as things are made plain for Don's wife, he struggles with the notions of fighting to save the marriage and realizing that he isn't up for that commitment and feels generally better alone than betrothed.

I'd argue for you to stick around. At the very least, they aren't laissez-faire about infidelity and are showing it for the massive corruption of both character and well-being that it is.
Jesus, did you ever make through even five minutes of The Sopranos?
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