The Sopranos

Matthew Weiner Is Overrated

The 'Mad Men' auteur's false advertising

 It’s not that “Mad Men” is bad. It’s just not nearly as good as most people say it is. 

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There’s a scene toward the end of the first episode of Showtime’s new drama “Masters of Sex” in which two test subjects embrace on a bed in a hospital laboratory. Bill Masters and Virginia Johnson, the real-life sex researchers from St. Louis’s Washington University who performed trailblazing studies on human subjects in the years before the sexual revolution, watch silently through a pane of glass. A scroll of paper charting the subjects’ heart rates unspools onto the floor nearby.

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The True Anti-Hero of 'Breaking Bad' Isn't Walter White

Sexual politics and the bad wife

Breaking Bad's exhilarating sexual politics.

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The TV poster has evolved from marketing tool into artistic enterprise.

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The closest Tony Soprano ever comes to saving his appalling soul is late in Season 1 of “The Sopranos.” His daughter Meadow’s friend has become depressed to the point of cutting herself (“a suicidal gesture,” Dr. Melfi memorably clarifies) and the cause, Tony learns, is that the talented high school soccer coach—his daughter’s soccer coach, with unfettered access to his daughter—has been sleeping with Meadow’s friend. Tony is all set to kill the coach: Tony Soprano has killed men for much smaller offenses; he kills for business.

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The Showrunner Fallacy

TV's auteurs matter much less than you think

Veneration of TV's auteurs does not explain TV's greatness.

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This is the new column in TNR’s weekly series of "Mad Men" episode recaps. Caution: It contains spoilers. Click here for last week's review. Except for the lamentable absence of Roger Sterling, "The Summer Man" was one of just two true ensemble episodes this season (the debut was the other). Characters that are usually locked into their own narrative boxes broke free and roamed through one another's territory; the show even managed to integrate Don and Betty's worlds, previously as rigidly demarcated as North and South Korea.

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