1968 and The Red Wedding: Mad Men vs. Game of Thrones

If you haven’t seen the most recent episodes of these shows and don’t want to know what happens, don’t read this.

I suspect you’ve noticed that two epic seasons are playing out right now in two TV shows that are arguably two of the best ever created. This is the sixth and final season of Mad Men and we are seeing Don and company in 1968, with the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy and the protests at the Democratic National Convention. The world is in turmoil and the characters lives are a pretty good mirror of the times, as they struggle with a multitude of personal and professional issues. Game of Thrones is set in a different world that, if nothing else, shows it is possible to have even more cultural and political upheaval than the 60s. This show is now coming to the end of its third season with drama that is almost too excruciating to watch.

In the case of both these great shows, it has been possible to anticipate events somewhat. Game of Thrones is quite faithful to the books on which it is based, so it’s possible to know some of what’s coming if you have read the books beforehand. In the case of Mad Men, we know the historical events that happened in the world in 1968 and some of the genius of the show is seeing those events unfold through the eyes of the characters, and experiencing those things with them. In both cases, however, nothing prepares you for the full impact of seeing the events play out with these characters that you have come to know and love.

Many questions have arisen in this season of Mad Men, including: What will be the fate of Don Draper, this semi-fictional character that Dick Whitman created in a horrible moment during the Korean War? But the more immediate question is: Who is Bob Benson? We have already caught Bob in at least one lie, as he has at different times claimed that his father is both dead and recently recovered from an illness. He is too smooth and too smarmy and too good to be real. There is something going on there that we just don’t know yet. What is your theory?

In Game of Thrones, the biggest questions surround the fate of the Starks, the family at the center of the show that has now lost its father, mother and oldest brother. Their story seems to oddly mirror that of House Targaryen a generation earlier, whose last remaining member is now on course to reclaim the throne that was taken from her family when she was just a child. The Stark children seem ill-prepared to survive in the world without their parents, but Daenerys shows what’s possible with a little luck and some unlikely powers. What’s your prediction on the fate of everyone’s favorite family?

Have you been watching these shows? Has Mad Men made you break out 60s music, hairstyles or clothing? Have you learned to speak Dothraki or Valyrian? Did you design your own sigil and motto yet? What are your favorite parts of these seasons? Favorite characters? Finally, are these the greatest shows ever, and if so, whish one is better? Or would you rather just talk about season 4 of Arrested Development? (Did you think Jason Bateman was going to make out with Justine for a second?)

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47 thoughts on “1968 and The Red Wedding: Mad Men vs. Game of Thrones

  1. If we are musing on the fate of the Starks, this needs to be a TV-only discussion so as to not offer any spoilers.

    One always expects death and misery in GoT so when Talisa was stabbed I wasn’t shocked. Robb dying — a little. But Catelyn too? Wow. Such a great performance by Michelle Fairley. The show has lost one of its great actors.

  2. The TV show doesn’t always follow the books, but let’s agree to leave the books aside.

    I agree that losing Fairley is sad for the show, but I felt that way about Sean Bean and Richard Madden too. This show has established a tradition of killing off its best characters and actors. The problem for the show is that we are running out of actors that we are excited to watch. Let’s hope that Emilia Clarke and Peter Dinklage are in it for the long haul.

  3. We thought the story would be about Ned Stark trying to bring the kingdom under control. Then we thought the story would be about the North getting some revenge and breaking off. Now what is this story really about?

    Here’s a question: would Walder Frey have eventually betrayed Robb anyhow? There isn’t as much emphasis on the concept in the show, but in the books he’s called “the late Lord Frey” for entering conflicts only after it has become clear who will win. Given the Baratheon/Lannister hold on the kingdom and the fact that Robb has lost portions of the North to the Greyjoys wouldn’t Frey have done this eventually anyhow? He certainly wasn’t going to participate in a risky siege of Casterly Rock.

    But if we ignore that, is Robb’s series of mistakes the consequence of Ned’s being raised by Jon Arryn? He might have muttered, “Winter is coming,” over and over, but he lived by “High as Honor,” and instilled this in Robb. Robb keeps making honorable choices over practical ones. He sleeps with Jeyne/Talisa and then marries her immediately because of honor. He executes Lord Karkstark because of honor, losing the Karstark army. Contrast this to Tywin, who is ruthlessly practical, but seems to have not instilled this virtue in his children. Tyrion is the most like him, but has a softer heart.

    The most interesting remaining characters, to me, are Tywin, Tyrion, and Arya. I’d put Jon on the list as well, but Show Jon is a whiny brat. Book Jon is much more likable.

    As for the question of greatest series ever, that remains to be seen as it has to have a great conclusion to be a great series. I have high hopes as GRRM has expressed disdain for how Lost and BSG ended. But right now the title has to go to The Wire, and I don’t see any current shows unseating it.

  4. One thing to keep in mind (both with the books and TV — although I don’t have HBO so haven’t watched the last season) is that the author is trying to impose authentic medieval values on fantasy. Fantasy has tended to adopt a romanticized 20th century view of things. Even Lord of the Rings. Yglesias has written some interesting stuff on this.

  5. I should add that somehow after book 3 I found the series much harder to get into – if only because all the characters I found interesting except for Tywin were gone. (I’ve made it 40 pages into book 4 after many months)

    Am I the only person who finds the dragon side of the story hopelessly boring? I know it’s the author putting pieces in place for some inevitable meeting of everyone. I’d guess that by then everyone will be dead except for Jon and our dragon lady. But by then how can I care? I need sympathetic interesting characters.

    Ditto for Mad Men. I tried watching it but I despised pretty much everyone so I gave up after 3 episodes.

  6. The dragons themselves are not particularly interesting, what is supposed to be interesting are the lessons Dany is learning along the way, and her education from Barristan should provide exposition that fills in the larger backstory. But so far that leaves a lot to be desired and the isolation from the rest of the characters means her story has to stand on its own.

    I agree that the fourth book is a bit of a slog. There are a lot of new characters that I wasn’t yet invested in and the split structure meant that the characters I most wanted to know about were absent. I don’t think that the TV show will have the same issues. It will likely condense many of the new characters and have the stories play out simultaneously. You really can’t send half of your remaining cast on vacation for a year. So season 5 of the show will have elements of books 4 and 5.

  7. “But by then how can I care? I need sympathetic interesting characters.”

    That’s exactly the problem the series now faces, I think, and one of the reasons you don’t see many stories where so many of the main characters die along the way. It makes it tough to sustain the story and keep the viewers interested.

    I would argue that Mad Men has interesting characters. Don is deeply flawed but still interesting, if not terribly sympathetic. It’s the same issue as Breaking Bad, to a lesser degree. Shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad have characters that do bad things, which tests the audiences ability to continue to care what happens to them. Game of Thrones seems to kill off anyone the audience cares about, with similar results. I still like both these shows a lot, but both need to develop other characters and story lines in order to keep people interested because Don, by himself is not going to keep people interested and Game of Thrones is not going to accomplish much if Dany is the only sympathetic character left.

  8. I have to say I really love both series. I agree with John that The Wire is still the best drama ever, although I didn’t really dig the ending (I thought season 5 was a bit weak, and didn’t like the montage at the end of the finale that neatly tied up all of the story lines; I still think the finale to The Sopranos is the best ending to a series ever).

    Let me first preface this by saying that after the first season of GOT I went ahead and read all five books because I had to know what happened.

    I think there are still plenty of strong characters left to make the series interesting. Tyrion (my favorite), Jamie, Cersei, Tywin, Arya, Jon, Margery and Daenerys, along with a lot of interesting lesser characters. I like the feeling that no one is safe and anyone could die at any time, just like in real life. However my gut tells me that Tyrion, Jon, Arya and Daenerys are in it for the long haul and there will be some kind of meeting in the last book. I liked the characters of Robb and Catelyn, but I don’t feel that the loss of them diminishes the story much.

    Having read the books I think that there is plenty to like in the seasons to come, although people do need to be prepared to get acquainted with several new major characters (and if we use the first three seasons as a reference, the casting will likely be superb). I did read somewhere though that GRRM said there won’t be any new major characters in books 6 and 7. I’ve heard some people have said they’re giving up on the show after last weeks episode, but I’m pretty sure almost all will be back on the bandwagon when next season rolls around, along with newbies who will have gorged on three seasons via HBO GO in the weeks leading up to it.

    As for Mad Men, I really like it. I think Don Draper is one of the more interesting and well-developed characters I’ve ever seen on TV. The 60′s were such a crazy time and I find it interesting to see the era through these characters. It doesn’t bother me that he has so many moral shortcomings; his flaws are what make him interesting. Same with all of the other characters. I also love the furniture. It’s like softcore porn for mid-century modern fans. And I thought that I heard that there will be a season 7.

    Between the two I’d say that Mad Men is of better quality, especially when it comes to the writing, acting and character development. But that’s not saying GOT is a slouch in those areas. And it’s so enjoyable on a visceral level, it’s definitely the one I’ve been watching first on Sunday nights.

  9. Disappointing to hear Jon Snow isn’t such a compelling character in the show. Jon, Arya, and Tyrion are really what keep the series going after Ned dies. People, if you watch the show but haven’t read the books, repent. Seriously. George R.R. Martin not only writes an awesome plot with awesome characters, he’s also a very good wordsmith. It’s certainly one of the top two fantasy series ever written (the first being, of course, Lord of the Rings).

  10. Well, let’s put it in the top five for now and see what happens. He’s not done yet and though I think he’s a good writer, the jury’s still out on the series until it’s finished. I think his greatest strength is his sparkling, witty dialogue, but this is a dark series at times and his penchant for cynicism and extreme plot swings could easily still wreck the ship.

    John, I think you raise some good issues in your first comment:

    “Here’s a question: would Walder Frey have eventually betrayed Robb anyhow?”

    I think unquestionably yes, which is why it seems beyond stupid for Robb (and especially Catelyn, who is supposed to know Frey) to put himself and his family in Frey’s hands.

    “Robb keeps making honorable choices over practical ones. He sleeps with Jeyne/Talisa and then marries her immediately because of honor. He executes Lord Karkstark because of honor, losing the Karstark army. Contrast this to Tywin, who is ruthlessly practical, but seems to have not instilled this virtue in his children. Tyrion is the most like him, but has a softer heart.”

    I’m not sure it’s possible to characterize them that way. Robb’s choice to break his word to Frey was not an honorable choice. And he didn’t marry Talisa out of honor, but out of love, it seems to me. He threw honor out the window and lost his head for a pretty face. It’s understandable, but you can’t really call it honor. Tywin also seems to have more going on than just being practical. His speech to Arya near the end of season two seems to show that what really drives him is his legacy. His actions are a bid for immortality, which is not exactly the same as being practical.

    Clark: “the author is trying to impose authentic medieval values on fantasy”

    I think that’s a very Martinesque way of looking at it. Perhaps it is more closely aligned to how things actually were in medieval times, but I’m not sure of that. Martin’s characters are often deeply cynical and sarcastic, which seems a very modern view of the world to me. And let’s remember that none of the major fantasy series are set in the medieval times of our world. They are all typically set in fictional worlds, so authenticity to our world’s medieval values seems at best a made-up virtue.

    “Am I the only person who finds the dragon side of the story hopelessly boring?”

    No. I think the problem is that there’s not enough going on there. It’s a bare-bones plot at best, just enough to keep us interested (barely) in what’s going on with Dany while he brings her closer to interaction with the main characters across the narrow sea. I think that plot should have been fleshed out more. Jorah and the others have almost nothing to do except react to Dany’s actions. These other characters could be doing more, and what happened to the Dothraki? They’ve almost disappeared, and after such a big intro in the beginning, it seems to me that we should be seeing more of them along the way.

    The biggest disappointment to me is Stannis Baratheon. And I’m not thrilled with the latest plot points relating to Theon Greyjoy either.

    In some ways, Mad Men is a better written series, because it’s more subtle. I think it treats a lot of the same themes, but without using a sledgehammer.

    Lots of fans of The Wire here, but I think either of these two shows could still beat The Wire for best of all time. It also seems possible to me that Breaking Bad could still capture the top spot. We’ll have to see how the final season shakes out.

  11. I agree that the Stannis storylines have not been that strong, but I feel that same way about the books. He just doesn’t interest me as much as a lot of the other characters do.

    The Theon situation is a bit trickier. I don’t really like how they handled it, but I’d like to hear how others would have dealt with adapting it. Unlike in a book, you couldn’t introduce Reek and not have the audience realize all along that it’s Theon (similar to the Barristan Selmy situation). Plus there were probably contract issues that might have made it difficult for him to just drop out of the series for a few seasons and then come back in.

  12. There was plenty of sarcasm and cynicism in the medieval period. Check out the Roman de Fauvel, or the Roman de Renart.

    I wasn’t that disappointed to see Robb go because I never thought he was that interesting a character. The character in the books whose development is the most interesting is Jaime Lannister and it is his fate that I am most eager to find out about.

  13. I agree with that to some extent, but I liked Robb and Talisa as well and wanted to see more of them. I think Tyrion actually interests me more than Jaime, although Jaime gets more interesting by the day. At first I just thought he was an a-hole, but now, not so much.

    Something has been bothering me about The Hound. He left Kings Landing in season two and it seems like he offered to take Sansa with him. She says something like, “You’ll never hurt me,” but then she doesn’t go with him. Anyone know why? I never understood that. She could have gotten out of there and yet she just stayed for no reason I can see. Now he’s with Arya, and I’m still having trouble understanding his motivations.

  14. I think Sansa just was too scared and indecisive to make the call to go with him. I think he is motivated partly by a sense of chivalry, but also just wants to earn a reward (and maybe a place) from their family since he basically gave up everything when he bailed on King’s Landing.

  15. He took Arya with him even after the Red Wedding, so I suppose it has to be more than just wanting a reward, since it’s pretty clear to him at that point that the Starks are toast.

  16. He seems to have a thing for the Stark girls, and yet he speaks with total contempt for them. I’m confused by his behavior, and Sansa’s. She seemed to start to trust him and then she just didn’t go with him and they never said why.

  17. Mike D, your explanation is reasonable, I just don’t understand why they didn’t have a scene that showed that.

  18. MCQ,

    I’m interested in what five fantasy series this one competes with in terms of greatness.

    My problem with most fantasy is that it’s really not all that well-written. The authors don’t spend a lot of time focusing on word choice, they don’t spend a ton of time editing, and although the stories and characters can be interesting, I don’t think the books will stand the test of time.

    Obviously Tolkien was different. Tolkien took a lot of time crafting each sentence and paragraph. Regardless of how Game of Thrones finishes, I think it’s different too. I think people will still be reading Game of Thrones 50, 60 years from now.

  19. Of course The Hobbit, LOTR and The Silmarillion go without saying but you have to also include The Earthsea Series by Ursula K. Le Guin (maybe the best written fantasy series of all time), The Amber Series by Roger Zelazny, The Once and Future King, by T.H. White, The Narnia Series by C.S. Lewis, The Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (not exactly great writing by Jordan, especially in the middle books, but finishes strong when Sanderson takes over and has great storytelling throughout and well worth the time it takes to read the eries to the end).

    There are others I could mention, but those will do to go on with and most of those have stood the test of time and are still being read long after their original release date. Martin appears to be a good writer and I’m not saying his books aren’t great, I’m just saying we should wait until the series is finished before we put him at the top of the list.

  20. MCQ,

    I agree that Show Robb is simply all lovey dovey. Book Robb is nursed back to health by Jeyne, who he hasn’t met before, sleeps with her, and then immediately marries her because otherwise he’d have dishonored her.

    This ties in to all the issues the Starks have due to Ned bringing Jon Snow home from Robert’s Rebellion. Robb saw how this impacted his father, mother, and Jon and overreacted. I agree that is was dishonorable to not marry a Frey daughter, but honor and Ned’s choice had a lot to do with Robb’s fate.

  21. John that story line isn’t the same in the show, obviously, but it is still clear that Robb is concerned with doing the right thing. He gets caught in the problem of which thing is more important, and Ned’s choices regarding Jon snow and Theon Greyjoy have obviously had huge consequences for the family and Robb in particular.

    But again, I’m not really interested in having a discussion of the differences in the books, and since a lot of people have not read the books, let’s stick to the show in this thread.

  22. I’ve read all those series (Earthsea so long ago I don’t really remember it, several books in the Amber series, I’m almost finished reading Wheel of Time all the way through, plus Narnia and Once and Future King). Mary Stewart’s series is a better Arthur/Merlin story than Once and Future King, and Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice series is a better series than most the others on that list.

    Here’s what a couple of famous fantasy authors have to say about Hobb and Martin:

    Brandon Sanderson agrees: “Robin Hobb…in my opinion, writes far better than I do myself…” http://www.brandonsanderson.com/blog/253/Robin-Hobb-Cover-Quote

    “George R. R. Martin…(is) probably the most skilled epic fantasy writer on the market right now.” http://www.brandonsanderson.com/blog/667/Reader-Mail

    So does Orson Scott Card–on Robin Hobb: “There is no better writer working in speculative fiction today.” http://www.hatrack.com/cgi-bin/print_friendly.cgi?page=/osc/reviews/reviews99/books.shtml

    And on Game of Thrones: “masterpiece of fantasy literature…” http://www.hatrack.com/cgi-bin/print_friendly.cgi?page=/osc/reviews/everything/2011-04-28.shtml

    You ask a random guy off the street who rock’s best living guitarist is and he might say something like “Van Halen.” You ask an actual professional guitarist and you’ll get an entirely different answer. Sure, it’s all subjective, but it’s always nice when your opinion aligns with the experts.

    Seriously, the Game of Thrones books are awesome, regardless of how the series will end. I guess theoretically he could put out crap for the next couple of books, but I just don’t see that happening. Even if the next two books are just okay, it’ll still be up there above most of these other series.

  23. Tyrion is very interesting, but he was interesting from the start. As you mention, Jaime originally appeared to be little more than a thug, but little by little, as more is revealed about his past, and as he reacts to new situations, he becomes a much more complex figure.

    If I remember correctly, when the Hound offers to rescue Sansa, she is still harboring childish illusions of marrying Joffrey and becoming queen, even though it had been obvious from the beginning that he was a sociopath.

    I know you don’t want discussion of the books, but if the show follows them, the stories in the east get a lot more interesting, as several characters from Westeros find reasons to go there, and there are also more developments in places like Dorne and Oldtown in the south which have hardly yet been seen at all.

  24. Bill, you may be right about Sansa, but I don’t think so. It seems to me that the Hound makes his offer to take Sansa with him after the battle at Kings Landing. By that time, Sansa is already horrified by Joffrey and terrified of him and his mother. That’s why I thought for sure that she would leave with the Hound.

    One thing Martin is very good at is character development. It happens slowly, but every character becomes more complex and nuanced. Characters you thought were villains show sympathetic qualities and the those you thought were unalloyed angels get some dirt on them. All except Joffrey. He’s a total git with no redeeming value.

  25. b Martin’s characters are often deeply cynical and sarcastic, which seems a very modern view of the world to me.

    Nah. In fact the late Romans were fantastically cynical, sarcastic and satirical. There was a lot of that in medieval times as well – perhaps more so because you had to be so guarded in what you said so they had to become very adroit and double meanings. Dante to me is deeply cynical and sarcastic for instance. Far more so than the typical slew of sarcastic pundits of today.

    They are all typically set in fictional worlds, so authenticity to our world’s medieval values seems at best a made-up virtue.

    Perhaps and I’m not the best to judge this. However a lot of people say that Game of Thrones is a very adroit study in international relations. Those posts of Yglesias do get at some key aspects of medieval life. When you throw in the fantasy elements it is quite interesting. As I said though I think you need some more sympathetic characters people can relate to. Also if you are doing that sort of analysis I think some more commentary on the culture from outside the culture would be helpful.

    No. I think the problem is that there’s not enough going on there. It’s a bare-bones plot at best, just enough to keep us interested (barely) in what’s going on with Dany while he brings her closer to interaction with the main characters across the narrow sea. I think that plot should have been fleshed out more.

    I think that’s right. I’ve not read the last few books but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s setting up a union with Jon and Dany.

    I would argue that Mad Men has interesting characters. Don is deeply flawed but still interesting, if not terribly sympathetic.

    Yeah, that’s perhaps a good way of putting it. I don’t mind flawed characters. I just need at least one major character to sympathize with. Someone who is my avatar in that world.

  26. What about Ted Chaugh? I think Pete Campbell is the character everyone loves to hate and Don is too complex for most people but Ted seems like a likeable everyman sort of guy. Now that he’s Don’s partner the contrasts between the two are fascinating. I actually really like Roger Sterling too for the most part. He goes out of his way to be an asshole to people just for fun, but he is fun to watch. The real emerging characters though, are the women, Peggy and Joan.

    We finally found out something more about Bob last night. It appears he’s the new gay character on the show, though he seemed interested in Joan previously. He’s always been very smooth and never really made a misstep, but I think coming on to Pete could prove to be a very bad move. And I can’t really imagine anyone, male or female, wanting to be with Pete. Very strange.

  27. I think Bob isn’t gay. I think Bob is what people need him to be. I think Bob is basically a much darker version of Don Draper, in that, his identity is completely maleable to him. My thought is that Bob is a true sociopath, and in the end, he’ll be running the agency.

  28. And just to be contrary…I don’t think either of these shows are in the conversation as far as greatest TV shows ever. I love them both. I’ve watched every episode of both, but I don’t think they even crack the top ten of greatest ever.

    As much as I like Mad Men, I think it’s one of the most overrated shows ever. The amount of praise heaped on it relative to how good it really is, is a bit astonishing. Of course, I felt the same way about The Sopranos as well.

  29. So if not these shows, what shows are in your top ten, Brian?

    Do you really think you can name ten shows that are better than both?

  30. In the latest episode, Bob denies being gay, and it’s revealed that he made up all the info on his resume. He was apparently a servant of some sort that decided to try to pass himself off as an accountant-turned-ad-exec. So he is a version of Don Draper, as Pete immediately recognizes, and decides not to make the same mistake he made with Don in season 1, where he tried to blackmail Don and then tried to turn him in. In Bob’s case, he decides to give Bob what he wants, provided Bob leaves him alone.

    I’m not sure how believable that is, frankly.

  31. I think I can name ten shows in the last 13 years that are better, or arguably as good as Game of Thrones and Mad Men, never mind the other 50 or so years of television history: Breaking Bad, The Wire, Arrested Development, Dexter, Lost, 30 Rock, Deadwood, The Office (UK), The Shield, Boardwalk Empire. That’s ten.

  32. I agree with Breaking Bad and The Wire being on that list. Dexter is good but not better than these two. 30 Rock is utterly moronic at times. No way it belongs on that list. The Office is good but not as good as these two. Arrested Development didn’t last long enough to really qualify, but it’s latest incarnation is not up to par. The Shield and Boardwalk empire are possibles, but I would argue that both MM and GoT are better. Deadwood? It only had three seasons and never rose to the level of either MM or GoT. Lost is absolutely not better than MM or GoT.

    On that list, I would say MM and GoT are still easily in the top 5, and probably the top 3.

    And I think NYPD Blue is better than most of those shows too.

  33. 30 Rock absolutely belongs. If GoT ends well it can kick Lost off. It’s all about whether he’s just making crap up as he goes or if there is in fact a plan.

  34. I guess i just don’t get 30 Rock. I know lots of people love it. I find it annoying at best.

    I think George has a plan. Robert Jordan’s story seemed far more random and even he had a plan.

  35. I would agree about Dexter if we only judge it on the seasons up through #4 (Trinity Killer) and maybe #5. But I think the last two seasons were not nearly as strong.

  36. MCQ said:

    I’m not sure how believable that is, frankly.

    I doubt that Pete is just being altruistic, I’m sure he’s going to have Bob on a short leash, doing some dirty work for him. Not sure if it will be against Don or someone else in the firm, but I’m pretty confidentPete’s not above it.

  37. I didn’t think it was altruism. Pete remembers what happened with Don and he’s worried about the same thing happening here: where he intends to out the culprit but ends up endangering himself. He doesn’t want to make any enemies.

  38. Last few seasons of Dexter have been very uneven. But that’s been true of Justified too. I’m glad both shows have ends in sight.

  39. I think the length of a show is not real indication of its greatness, but if that’s the barometer we’re using, we need to withhold judgment on GoT in particular. There’s only been 3 seasons so far, and every reader of the books I’ve spoken to says after the 3rd book it goes down hill. I’ve read the first 3 books, and I think the TV show has nearly exhausted all the great material there. Part of what makes GoT a lesser light in the constelation of recent TV shows in my opinion is that it is an adaptation, a remarkable one, but nonetheless, the producers and writers have an extremely detailed blueprint to draw from.

  40. In the eyes of most people, Mad Men is boring, and they feel there’s no characters to root for or sympathize with because they are all so flawed and compromised. The story has creeped forward at a snail’s pace, particularly in the early seasons. This is why its never really gotten remarkable ratings in spite of the fact it is a critical darling. It too, I should point out, has had its uneven seasons. To its credit it has gotten better, rather than worse, which is the opposite of most television shows, but ask yourself how badly you want to see it every week.

    We tivo both GoT and MM every sunday, well we did until GoT ended, and we always watched GoT immediately and MM, maybe 5 or 6 days later. The reason why is simple, MM, although amazing is not that entertaining. It’s just not, and for me, that’s a big criteria of what makes a show great–if you aren’t chomping at the bit to know what happens next, which is the case most of the time with MM, that says something.

  41. I also think if we expanded our list of shows that are just as good or better than GoT and MM into the earlier decades of television, I think it would be easy to find shows to add to the list. Really, TV like any art form, needs the test of significant time to determine greatness. Arguably, any show that hasn’t finished its run shouldn’t even be in a conversation of “greatest ever.”

    Remember when everyone thought Desperate Housewives and Heroes were a big deal?

  42. “Remember when everyone thought Desperate Housewives and Heroes were a big deal?”

    No, I really don’t. I mean, Desperate Housewives? Really?

    I guess I’m in the minority because I look forward to seeing Mad Men every week. I don’t love it this season as much as other seasons, but I’m still very into it. I think the sparring between Don and Ted this season is masterful, in particular. I agree the story is not moving quickly, but then I don’t think this show is abourt the story. I think it’s about the characters and the time.

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