I didn’t watch Mad Men tonight. Instead, I was at Seaside Heights to 1) nap off a late Saturday night 2) catch up with a friend 3) get buzzed 4) play arcade games in order to win a pack of those animal shaped rubber band things.
In the process of enjoying our day we saw Snooki of Jersey Shore 1) traipsing the boardwalk 2) playing arcade games 3) getting buzzed. As far as I can see, the only difference is that she gets paid to attract drama.
I prefer living a drama-free life as it is less stressful, which is also probably why I’ll never get a 15 minutes of fame quite like Jersey Shore. My distaste for unecessary drama is also why I didn’t notice I missed Mad Men until now. Now that Don’s secret is out these people REALLY do not have very difficult lives, and the supposedly dramatic plots that Matt Weiner & Co. come up with are more contrived than Snooki’s recent arrest for being drunk and disorderly in public. For example, the return of that weirdo kid, Glen. Presumably Sally and his interaction will be a source of conflict/drama because why would they spend precious screen time on it otherwise, right? Except that a 12-year-old kid who had a strange interaction with the mother of the 12-year-old girl he’s either obsessed with or completely hates is just weird. Every breath of their screen time sounded so contrived and strange, and only served to reinforce the idea that Betty is going to move out of that house.
Speaking of contrivances, it seems that Snooki is paraded down the boardwalk every day. Where’s the rest of the cast? It’s like they put her out as tourist bait while everyone else gets their gym on.
ANYWAY my point about Mad Men is that the gimmick of creating cultural cross-sections via vintage ad campaigns is wearing thin. The characters are becoming less about themselves and more about being linchpins of whatever conflict is supposed to be central to a given episode.
T0 be fair, I had to play catch up on seasons 1 and 2 while in the midst of Season 3 and experienced a bit of MM burnout by the time the season wrapped up. But the mystery of Don Draper was enough to make me eagerly tune into the premiere of Season 4. Yet, I still have issues with this show. Sometimes it’s beyond brilliant, combining themes and events in a way I can only dream of (See: The Hobo Code, Babylon). But most of the time these people are actually infuriating to watch, throwing around quips and dark looks without ever getting anywhere. Part of the brilliance of the first to season is that seemingly random lines always come full circle by the end of the episode or maybe a few episodes later. But this season seems different.
If it gets any better, let me know. Right now I’m inadvertently praising a reality TV show because I find it more entertaining to laugh at the constructed absurdity of Jersey Shore than sit and squirm uncomfortably at the hidden contrivances of Mad Men (like Don asking a hooker to slap him around? I don’t buy it. Don even paying for sex is a big leap, and if you wanted to reveal some unknown aspect of his personal life, being slapped is fairly vanilla, even for 1964. COME ON).