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    Showing posts with label Mad Men. Show all posts

    'Mad Men' Review: Everyone's Out Of Place In 'The Runaways'

    Wrong. Almost everyone in "The Runaways" was out of place or out of their element, and quite conscious of that fact. And I'll say more about that in a minute, but first, well, wow. You can't make the claim that "Mad Men" denies the viewer a full range of experiences.

    First, we had the AMC After Dark scene of Don having a three-way with Megan and her friend Amy. And then we had something completely different: Michael Ginsberg proudly presenting his sliced-off nipple to Peggy. Excuse me for a minute while I go drink the entire contents of my liquor cabinet.

    Yeeeeow. I feel scarred from having written the above sentence about Ginsberg's body part; seeing what was in that box was worse. There's a mental image I'll never be able to remove from my brain -- Scout's honor.

    As wildly different as those two moments were, this is "Mad Men," so the moments shared a thematic link, as did much of what occurred elsewhere in "The Runaways." As I noted above, almost every character stood on unfamiliar terrain or felt deeply alienated from what was going on around them.

    Even though Don may have succumbed to the charms of Megan and her friend, there was reluctance in everything he did when he was out in California. He felt left out at her party, he tried to ignore her dancing with another man and he sensed that there was something odd about Stephanie's quick exit from Megan's pad. Don was so uncomfortable that Harry Crane, of all people, turned out to be a sight for sore eyes. Don couldn't wait to get away from all those pot-smokin' hippies and go drink manly alcohol in a dimly lit bar. There's only so much extramarital flirtation and banjo a man can be expected to endure.

    Ginsberg's unease, at least in his own mind, had an explanation: It was all the computer's fault. He was so rattled by that humming monolith that he actually went to Peggy's house, a weird place for him to end up on a Saturday night. There, Ginsberg found one of the episode's many odd pairings: Peggy and little Julio from upstairs. In an episode full of characters experiencing discomfort and disconnected states, it's wildly ironic and very sad that Ginsberg actually found relief from his distress. Unfortunately, his "relief" was a symptom of profound mental illness.

    Should Women Really "Go Ugly"?

    This post originally appeared on The Good Men Project

    Vicki Larson and I have been having a fairly heated conversation about what ugly has to do, or not do, with a man being marrying material. Her Huffington Post column got huge attention for claiming that women should choose ugly husbands, lest they be subject to the Weiner/Tiger/Arnold syndrome--appealing and powerful men who crash and burn.
    I am not sure we will ever agree completely, but in my direct conversations with Vicki I get the sense that we actually agree, perhaps more than we disagree. Vicki and I thought it might be informative to engage in a spirited question and answer about her original piece and my sense of what manhood really is all about.
    Tom: Vicki, everywhere I look, there are articles that attempt to summarize manhood (ironically most often written by women). Don't you think making sweeping stereotype-driven judgments about men is the same thing as making those judgments about women, or blacks or gays?
    Vicki: You're surprised? Women love analyzing men! Sweeping stereotypes are horrible -- I hate being seen as a high-maintenance gold-digger living off my ex's hard-earned money just because I'm a divorced blonde. Intelligent people understand that the world doesn't work in absolutes -- "never" and "always."
    What saddens me reading the comments here and elsewhere is that we still focus on how "bad" the other sex is. The studies I cite are old, they've been written about many times before, but because of social media, many people knee-jerk react and spread it faster, farther and wider than before. So much for thoughtful commentary.
    Tom: I heard an interesting interview with Jon Hamm, who plays Don Draper on "Mad Men," in which he talked about how difficult it is for him to be objectified. He was serious about it and appeared to be an honest and sweet man despite his good looks. Should we be feeling sorry for him?
    Vicki: We all want to feel attractive, not objectified. Still, Hamm chose a career that feeds off of good looks and he's being paid well and has many opportunities because of it. But it's great he's talking about it because women don't know how men feel about being lust objects. Most women, however, do; even women who aren't "beautiful" are drooled over because they might have great breasts or a butt. We need to be empathetic to how the other sex experiences things; Louanne Brizendine's books on male and female brains are great.

    Christina Hendricks: Joan Holloway Wasn't Supposed To Be Sexy

    It is the pointed and tightly wound, can't-miss-a-word dialogue and slow-burning-til-massive-explosion story lines that set up "Mad Men" to be a perennial award winner, but it is without question that is its actors, with their nuanced performances and emotional journeys, that make the show such a hit.
    While Jon Hamm's Don Draper is the undisputed lead, the troubled and mysterious ad man with a dark past and present day jawline that delivers as many messages as his mouth, the show relies almost as much on its female scene-stealer, Joan Holloway, played by the irreplaceable Christina Hendricks.
    It's her early 60s charm -- she seems to bow down to the ludicrous male-female paradigm and inequitable power structure of the era, while actually turning it on its ear to run the office and sometimes, the personal lives of its inhabitants -- that make her performance so powerful, but there's no mistaking that her body, matching the curvy ideals of the times, stands out as its own sort of character.
    Hendricks, a long-time working actress with roles in shows such as "Firefly" and "Kevin Hill," won the pre-written role based on her acting skills, but the sexy factor inherent in Holloway was something she brought to the character in large part on her own.
    "When we did the pilot, that was not something that we discussed as a trait for Joan," she told Parade Magazine. "This is something that's developed as a combination of the costuming on the show, the hair and makeup, my portrayal of the role, and [showrunner] Matt's [Weiner] writing. It all kind of came together and that became much more of a focus later. It was just something the audience brought attention to."
    Now, with that mix of textured acting skill and knockout looks, Hendricks' career is truly taking off. She co-stars alongside Sarah Jessica Parker in the upcoming comedy, "I Don't Know How She Does It," playing a working woman in New York City -- but in 2011, not 1964.
    ""I play Sarah Jessica's best friend and partner in crime. We're sort of these harried, rushed business women and I'm there commiserating with her on the side," Hendricks said of the film. "We're trying to be perfect mothers and perfect business women and perfect wives. It is a dream to work with Sarah Jessica Parker. She's everything you want her to be: She's incredibly smart and talented and gracious and very giving as an actress. I just absolutely adore her."

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