Infidelity is almost as vital a staple of television as the violent murder of young women. Convoluted assignations are practically the only things that occur in our beloved, cryogenically-frozen soap operas, and these often end in someone’s climactic death. There isn’t a marriage on the box that doesn’t harbour a cheat or a killer. The message seems to be this: that we, the gawping masses, either want someone other than our significant others, or we want to kill them. But the telly, our moral guardian, is ever on hand to save us from our dark desires and enact them, ad nauseam, for our delectation and, presumably, titillation. Continue Reading…
Archives For Mad Men
Alas, there wasn’t time to sit through every episode of Mad Men (AMC/Sky Atlantic), as I had pipedreamed, before the first episode of the second half of the final season (there’s an easier way to put that but as long as showrunners want to tease us with half-portions of final episodes, they should know how uncomfortable we all are). This may be a good thing: that trademark blend of purposeless sexism and misogyny, ranging from the puerile to the sadistic, was, frankly, trying by the end of this opener – exposure to 85 episodes might force a tough re-evaluation of the company one keeps on screen. Just as, say, OD-ing on Breaking Bad might make Walter White seem less of a troubled genius and more of a simpering slap-head. Continue Reading…
***Contains spoilers for Game of Thrones and Mad Men***
The observant, and interested, may have noticed that this year has been a bonanza for those of us who enjoy watching writers sit down and talk about their lives and work. Alan Yentob has clearly lashed The Culture Show and Imagine… together to provide us with a surfeit of moveable feasts spanning the entire BBC frontier.
Hanif Kureishi came out swinging first, swaggering and courting controversy like a bad first date; Julian Barnes scintillated at his wry, precise, prickly best; Lynn Barber, the famous interviewer of the famous, complained about the politesse of Gore Vidal and the petulance of Rafa Nadal; and, most recently, Edward St Aubyn gave a rare television interview. We knew it was rare because John Mullan, his interviewer, told us so. He also told us that St Aubyn is a writer of exquisite prose, which is true, but he, Mullan, might concede that television crews won’t be swarming the St Aubyn lair begging for him to appear. He was underwhelming, but the fact that anyone could talk with any amount of eloquence about the events of his life (rape, drugs, matrimonial euthanasia) is something to be grateful for – if it attracts more readers to his books, his publisher will be too. Continue Reading…
I’m not sure if it’s a good sign that FX has decided to squish the fourth season Louis C.K.’s Louie into seven back-to-back instalments, but, as a gluttonous fan of the show, I am grateful for the opportunity to binge on the surrealist satire-come-farce.
Some might say a glutton for punishment, given that Louie is often dismissed as ‘depressing’. True, some of it is bleak, but humour and despair are an ancient double act. Shakespeare’s comedies are leant all the more pathos because they are closer to life as it is than tragedy; The Winter’s Tale is still, I think, the most terrifying play ever written.
We may cringe whilst Louie is upbraided by a fat girl for denying her size or when, this week, he struggles, through an intermediary, to ask a woman who doesn’t speak English out for a dinner, before being promptly told that she’s leaving the country. But if you persist – and don’t look away – Louie often rewards you with a tenderness that is rare this side of nineties-sitcom schmaltz. Most episodes traverse every emotion, which is not to say that it isn’t primarily hilarious – simply, that that’s not the only thing it can be.
Veep (HBO), however, can only be hilarious because it is populated by people without souls and it succeeds with malice aforethought. This is of course familiar territory for Julia Louis-Dreyfus (who probably doesn’t need to be prefixed with ‘Seinfeld’s’ anymore) who, as Vice President Selina Meyer, fresh off last week’s incident with a Finnish politician, continues to have as many problems with europeans, in London, as she does with her own team of bumbling backstabbers. As usual, the gong for most fabulously feckless goes to director of communications Mike McLintock (Matt Walsh) for brazenly insisting upon a fraudulent knowledge of German, even in the face of someone who clearly did possess the language. Such dedication to ineptitude and artifice has a pathos of its own.
Finally, a brief word about Mad Men (AMC/Sky Atlantic) – a programme that is only ever a vodka shot away from turning into car-crash television: three cheers to Matthew Weiner for making Don the centre of the show again, after being the man-who-wasn’t-there for much of the previous season. More on this after next week’s mid-season finale – and what can be done about these year-long breaks?