Since I’m presently procrastinating from finishing what I hope to be the final editing of A Land War in Asia (the sequel to “The Blast of War”) by both reading about and watching television, I figured I’d take a few moments to put a few television-related thoughts into writing.
First, Mad Men. There’s a lot that’s already been said about the premiere and much more will be written as the season goes on. But I have one theory that doesn’t seem to have been raised in anything that I’ve written. Specifically, this deals with the story of Lane Pryce and the wallet.
Before I go on, it’s worth remembering that Mad Men’s favourite trope is to take a look at how attitudes about all sorts of social issues have shifted from the 1960’s to the present day.
Now, obviously, the picture of Delores that Lane finds in the wallet kindles some sort of infatuation in Lane and is meant to point us in the direction of a future adulterous relationship of some sort or thing along those lines. However, based upon a few clues, let me offer a prediction:
1) Many have already surmised, and I agree, that Delores is the “kept woman” of some kind of organized crime figure.
2) Based upon both the picture and the tone of her phone conversation with Lane, I suspect that Delores is going to turn out to be quite young… As in, if I were to guess, underage young.
3) I think that the name is significant – Delores. Specifically, I think that its meant to invoke Nabokov:
She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.
I don’t think – probably – that the show would go the route of having Lane have an affair with an underage girl. The show loves exploring contrasts between modern attitudes and 1960’s attitudes but, at the same time, I think that audiences would find that hard to get past. Instead, I think that they’ll explore it by having Lane attempt to rescue her from her current status to the general indifference of everyone else.
Hulu is streaming the pilot episode of “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23” – yet another example of a show that a network green-lighted with the word “bitch” in the title and then chickened out on before the thing actually made it on the air. I’m not sure if we can really say that this is a positive cultural trend. It makes me think of the scene in Lisa’s Wedding where Marge in the “future” (in a scene that, thanks to the unbelievable longevity of The Simpsons is now set two years in the past) comments that “Fox turned into a hard-core sex channel so gradually I didn’t even notice.” At the rate things are going, one has to assume that in another year or two the big networks will pick up shows with “bitch” in the title and not back down and that, in five or so years we’ll find out at the upfronts that ABC has picked up a sitcom named “Fuck Off” and that CBS has picked up another suspiciously-similar show named “Fuck You.”
It’s a pity, really, that the show – given that it’s debuting in April with almost zero fanfare – is all-but-certain to be cancelled. It’s actually a fine showcase for Krysten Ritter (perhaps most memorable as “Jane” in the second season of Breaking Bad, but also a stand-out during arcs on Veronica Mars and the Gilmore Girls in addition to a number of minor film roles), who is one of those actresses (the other two who come immediately to the top of my mind are Judy Greer and Paula Marshall) who is great in all sorts of thigns but, for some reason, has never quite broken through.
With a cast that includes Dreama Walker, most notable as Becca (the ex-girlfriend of Alicia son’s) on The Good Wife and James Van Der Beek (who, for some reason, is playing himself), Don’t Trust the B—– in Apartment 23 vaguely resembles CBS’s Two Broke Girls insofar as it’s a show about two young roommates in New York City that at least nods to the prevailing economic circumstances of the day. In each case a straight-laced young blonde who is forced by economic circumstances (actually, now that I think about it, forced by a Madoff-type fraudster) to move in with a cynical and street-wise girl with darker hair. But where Two Broke Girls largely uses the concept as an excuse to make sex and ethnic jokes that tend to played with a weird sort of stagey showiness by star Kat Dennings, Apartment 23 is sharper and smarter. I strongly encourage you to watch it before it gets cancelled.