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And now Mad Men is back. I’ll be covering it weekly for Dear Television, and I started out this week by writing about the show’s obsession with spaces. Particularly, the airplane:

“So it’s not insignificant that the big, emotionally-freighted set-piece of ‘Time Zones’ occurs at 30,000 feet in TWA first-class…Tight quarters, nighttime, brushed shoulders, the curve of the fuselage pushing people together, the air literally re-pressurized — this is one of few spaces where we have to act like this type of exaggerated and immediate intimacy is normal.”

“Plane in Vain”

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So, Game of Thrones is back, and I’ve been writing quite a lot about it. First, for Dear Television, I covered Arya Stark’s revenge plot and the idea of marginality on the show:

“Game of Thrones isn’t brave because it kills its protagonists. It’s brave because it doesn’t have any.”

“Arya Stark, FTW”

And then, this week, in my debut essay for The Daily Beast, I wrote about That Thing That Happened To That One Character and the afterlives of TV deaths:

“While the loss of a major character obviously places a limit on narrative—one less character, one less narrative arc, one less set of possible combinations—these shows have become uncommonly invested in the possibilities opened up by an abrupt exit.”

“Life After TV Death”

 

 

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This past week, David Letterman, my favorite talk show host ever, and probably one of my favorite media personalities, announced that he’d retire next year. I wrote a piece for Slate about why Ellen Degeneres would be a worthy, even perfect, successor:

“There are no jokes on Letterman. His monologues from the desk are networks of inference, nudge, and innuendo. Watch him even now: He’s barely articulate, but he is communicating. The anachronistic gesture of drinking from the desk—it’s 11:30, time for a drink, but Letterman, unlike us, is still at work!—showcases, above all, the chaotic potential of television at that time of night. There is no “after hours” on network television. There is no time when it’s-just-you-and-me. But there is, as Letterman knows, the possibility of faking it.”

“Dancing and Drinking the Late Night Away”

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So Dear Television and I returned to our favorite new show Broad City at the end of its first season. I wrote an experimental, semi-silly, semi-serious ode to the dance moves of Ilana Glazer, with references to Walter Benjamin, the In Living Color Fly Girls, film scholar Donald Crafton, Spike Lee, and Ellen Degeneres:

“To say that Broad City is interested in possibility rather than the slow death of it is not to say that it’s unaware of the way the world works. People are cruel on Broad City, and stupid decisions have consequences. James Murphy, the musician and fellow dancing Brooklynite, sang: ‘I wouldn’t trade one stupid decision for another five years of life.’ And Broad City, like the best dance music, is about the joy of stupid decisions and the way that living through your desires, living through the connection you feel to another person, makes you bulletproof to cruelty and anger, if even only momentarily. The feeling produced is more profound than the thing producing it. Ilana Glazer might just be dancing because she feels like it, but I think it’s important that somebody is.”

“Theses on the Dance Moves of Ilana Glazer”

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Dear Television commemorated one fantastic season of television by doing a roundtable on the True Detective finale. Follow the link below to my thoughts:

“If we wanted to see this man’s conversion, it was in the way he fought with this force of evil, the strength he exerted to keep this bad man down, the way the darkness enveloped him and, within the frame, made him a source of light.”

“Darkness, Yeah”

 

hoffman.At Avidly, I wrote a tribute to my favorite actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and how good he was at talking on the phone in movies.

“But it’s also not wrong to think back on these scenes and to wonder what they reveal of this man’s art, why these moments in particular can represent his work so fully even in their constraint. As we are beginning to reckon with the distance we now feel from an actor who had seemed so intimately communicative with us as viewers of film, we should ask why he was so reliably able to reach us when he was alive.”

“Where I’m Calling From: Philip Seymour Hoffman, 1967-2014″

 

broadcityThis week for Dear Television, I reviewed Comedy Central’s new sketchy, sketch comedy series, Broad City:

Broad City was born in improv theaters and on the internet. It’s got a gritty hand-held feel, an associative style, and it relies less on a set of characters or observations than it does on a kind of madcap, accretive sensibility. In other words, these episodes simply turn Abbi and Ilana loose in the city and see what happens. The bits are staged, of course, but there’s a spontaneity to the whole exercise that is unique on Comedy Central right now.”

“Sketchy Comedy”

 

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