Mar 23, 2012

Rundle: it’s Mad (Men), mad world — on TV and here and now

Cue Saul Bass titles, thumping music. It rates less than 1% in the US, the writing is terrible, and it's a cult phenomenon -- yes, Mad Men is back!

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


Cue Saul Bass titles, thumping music. It rates less than 1% in the US, the writing is terrible, and it’s a cult phenomenon — yes, Mad Men is back!

The show that is to the inner-city-elite-latte-blah-blah-sodomy set, what a Top Gear appearance at a jelly-wrestling pub is — apparently — to the sainted masses, returns for a fifth season in the US and UK this week. The plot continues to crawl along, as do the years — having started as the ’50s were turning into the ’60s, the series is now at 1965, right at the point at which society as about to change rapidly and substantially.

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8 thoughts on “Rundle: it’s Mad (Men), mad world — on TV and here and now

  1. Kristian

    Guy, you’ve been slowly creeping towards disappearing up your own a$$ lately.

    Then, with the throwaway dagger “the writing is terrible” in the opening sentence, I think you just did…

  2. Rourke

    Kristian: there are moments of genius, but there is also plenty of banal and stilted dialogue in Mad Men. As a 30-something I loved the evocation of the era in the first season, and it sometimes branches out into interesting themes, but by late in the third season I was too frustrated with something to watch any more. Guy has just given me the clue: they don’t use enough irony, and every character is just a little too earnest to be properly 3D.

    There have also been two transcendant moments that for me are highlights of the last decade of TV, among tough competition: firstly the marketing genius that takes your breath away when Don Draper shows his concept for the slide carousel (riveting when you think about his own family situation as you watch the happy snaps), and secondly the season finale with Peggy, which I won’t spoil for those who need to see it for themselves. That’s you.

  3. AR

    This is the first Rundle piece I couldn’t be arsed to read – not sure why as it has his usual mordant, verbal pyrotechnics but… the subject just bores me rigid.
    Very strange, it must be me, not him.

  4. Lindsay

    It’s not you AR, it’s not Guy either, It’s Mad Men,

  5. Max Gillies

    kristian, i’m quite certain the phrase ‘creeping towards disappearing’ permanently disqualifies you from exercising such damning dismissals. perhaps you could have deigned to explain yourself, even a touch? is the writing not terrible? are you trying to convince us of the vacuity of you critical capacities?

  6. lethell

    Totally off the mark as to why Mad Men has been addictive, first three series anyway (series four seemed much more filler to move the plot along): it’s the simultaneous depth and mystery of the characterisation. What is Don’s secret? Why is he so angry and driven? Betty! such a spoiled, angry child-woman. Peggy, how her working-class Catholic background and her disastrous one-night stand with callow upper-class Pete added to her ambition and so on. The people are fascinating, unpredictable, their backgrounds and histories revealed in fits and starts. The historical detail is interesting but has never been the reason I watch Mad Men, rather the insight into the interaction between social mores, class and character that moulds personal identity.

    Talk about sweeping generalisations! Rundle and Bernard Keane are resorting to it far too much these days and I’m getting tired of the dismissive attitudes expressed by some of your contributors for the tastes and opinions of what is probably a fairly typical Crikey reader: a poorish, over-educated, inner-city leftish, greenish schoolteacher who is beginning to think it’s not worth renewing her subscription.

  7. Michael Hughes

    I have to protest. Mad Men is very well written. And in a way it’s written like a Ritchie piece. A delightul blend of themes explored and a deep understanding of how culture forms and ripples. I also love the fact op shops across Oz were raided for 60s tat. Google the john Hamm Marc Maron interview on WTF For a groovy insight into the show, man. Also, I got some weed. It’s good stuff. I got it from a …

  8. Kristian

    Max, you got me!

    Because I don’t think the writing on Mad Men is terrible, I’m clearly incapable of criticism.

    But, if I could somehow tenuously link the subject to some obscure mid-18th century political movement, then just maybe…

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