Category Archives: Pop Culture

Don Draper Wants the World to Buy a Coke: A ‘Mad Men’ Finale Recap

Meredith: “I really hope he’s in a better place.”
Roger: “He’s not dead, stop saying that!”
Meredith: “There’s a lot of places better than here.”

Meredith is right. The large offices on Madison Avenue aren’t for everyone. They weren’t for Shirley, who left the company after sharing a candid truth: that advertising “isn’t comfortable” for everyone. They weren’t for Joan, who learned standing up to sexism would literally cost her to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. They weren’t for Pete, who found the fastest way to climb the corporate ladder is to take a personal jet to the top. And of course, the life at McCann-Erickson doesn’t exactly suit Don Draper, either. But more on that later.

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The Impact of Choice in ‘Better Call Saul’

“I’m a lousy brother. I’m a big screwup. And if I was just a better person, I would not only stop letting you down — you know what? I’d stop letting me down. And it’s about time I started to make both of us proud.”
-Jimmy McGill in “Nacho”

When the Internet buzzed with rumors of a “Breaking Bad” spinoff, I was skeptical.

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Dark Comedies: On ‘Wilfred’ and Mental Illness

Note: This post contains spoilers about the series finale of “Wilfred.” 

As common as it is, depression is something we’re still not comfortable discussing. The word elicits stereotypical imagery of mopiness, rainy days or, if you’re me, bouncing balls and floating bathrobes.

I say that not to discount depression, but rather to point out how there’s little recognition, especially in media representations, of depression as a complex, multifaceted illness. In truth, depression comes in a spectrum and expresses itself in a myriad of ways — which is why the new Netflix original series “BoJack Horseman” is making such an impression.

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A Quick Defense of Young Adult Novels

While I can always avoid an Upworthy headline — yup, I can thoroughly believe “what happens next” — I have to give it to Slate for headlines carefully designed to provoke fiery debate among its readership. The latest example: Ruth Graham’s “Against YA,” which spread across the web with the subhed, “Yes, adults should be embarrassed to read young adult books.” Talk about being goaded, huh?

Graham’s essay was prompted by The Fault in Our Stars, the young adult juggernaut that spawned a rabid fanbase not unlike The Hunger Games series or even the Harry Potter series. The film adaptation, released this weekend, sailed into first place at the weekend box office, winning around $48.2 million and an untold count of tissues. But if you’re a bonafide adult reading young adult novels like Fault, Graham says, be ashamed. Be very ashamed.

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Review: “The Congress”

In the big wide world out there, consumption is one of the keys that ties us together. Not only are we literally required to consume in order to survive, but metaphorically speaking, we consume according to our interests, our passions. (There’s a reason why “binging” is such a popular way to characterize our habits.) And on the other side of the coin, we often speak of things that consume us: a job, a relationship, desire, pain.

Our relationship to that word is essential to the entertainment industry in particular. We consume the product, and those who make the product consume our money, watching it compound and compound. Consumption is just another word for a transaction, and just like a transaction, it means there’s a price involved.

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This “SNL” Cosmo Photo Shoot is…Not So Great, You Guys.

In the first season of 30 Rock, Liz Lemon looks on as her best friend/employee/all-around nuisance Jenna Maroney prepares for a photo shoot. The shoot is for Maxim’s hottest women in comedy issue — of which Jenna came in fourth — so naturally, Jenna is decked out in red lingerie and lace, patiently pausing to allow an assistant to rub oil on her legs. Or, rather, salad dressing. “It gets a better sheen,” Jenna says, excitedly.

“Jenna, this is ridiculous,” Liz counters. “What does any of this have to do with comedy?”

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Doubt, Alternate Endings and HIMYM

After two Moscow Mules, one of my friends looked me dead in the eyes and told me, “Doubt will make you a lesser being.”

It’s one of those profoundly wise things you can really only say through the gentle haze of drinking, one of those sentences that is so utterly incongruent with the conversation that it sounds like someone else speaking through you. Somehow, just as miraculously as my friend said that, I remembered those words the next day.

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HIMYM and the Value of an End Game

You can’t make ’em all happy. And that couldn’t be more true when it comes to the finale for a TV series, in this case, How I Met Your Mother. 

While HIMYM has a lot of the makings of your typical sitcom — young, attractive white people living in a beautiful New York City apartment who seem to spend roughly 60 percent of their time together — there’s a lot it can be commended for. It was cinematically ambitious, bringing the multi-camera sitcom to new heights. It helped perfect the inside-joke brand of comedy, with an impressive series of recurring jokes and gags that are best appreciated by the longtime viewer. (Slap bet, anyone?)

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