MAD MEN / “Waterloo”

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I wrote about the Mad Men midseason finale for “Dear Television” at The Los Angeles Review of Books. Essay contains references to carousels, family tables, sausages, Ida Blankenship, and the way that this joyful, hilarious episode filled me with dread:

“So, to recap, in four seasons, Don’s argument on behalf of advertising has gone from There’s something missing in the world that you’re uniquely able to provide to You need something to do to occupy your time until you die on your couch. The content of the ads is immaterial, it’s the structure and ritual that keeps these people alive. After a certain point, it doesn’t matter who you work for: stopping is the enemy.”

“She’s an Astronaut”

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MAYA RUDOLPH

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I wrote a review of The Maya Rudolph Show for The Los Angeles Review of Books that covers topics as wide-ranging as Rudolph’s Prince cover band, the ubiquity of Fred Armisen, and nostalgia for Saturday Night Live:

“Jimmy plays more characters than Jay, Seth is maybe a little more buttoned-down than Conan, and Colbert will likely create a more welcoming space for guests than Dave, but these are all tonal shifts, not structural ones. Pope Francis seems like a way chiller bro than Pope Benedict, but he’s still exorcising people, he’s still cracking down on feminist nuns, the Catholic Church is still the Catholic Church, and The Tonight Show is still The Tonight Show. The new guard may feel new, but the thing they’re guarding is basically unchanged.

So, perhaps as a safety valve for any revolutionary energy NBC might have sitting around unused, perhaps to atone for a total makeover between 11:30 and 1:30 that included not a single woman or person of color outside of the house band, or perhaps simply because Lorne Michaels gets what Lorne Michaels wants these days, we have The Maya Rudolph Show.”

“Saturday Night Lost: On Maya Rudolph and SNL Nostalgia”

MAD MEN / “The Runaways”

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I wrote about all the motherless children of Mad Men‘s “The Runaways” for Dear Television at The Los Angeles Review of Books:

“Nothing is new, there is no rebirth, the frontier is a dream, the second wife is the same as the first, the new agency is the same as the old agency, Bobby’s nightmares are the same as his sister’s. Don told both Peggy and Lane about how easy it is to start over. Has it been easy for them? There’s no future, just a bunch of cowboys, prophets, and children playing in the yard, out of sight of their mothers.”

“Only Mothers Left Alive”