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by Elizabeth Wiggins

13 Aug 2010


I came to Mad Men late, in the middle of the show’s second season. Unwilling to simply dive in and pick up in the middle of things and worry about catching up later, I exercised restraint and watched the first two seasons of the show on DVD.  Watching the first two seasons this way allowed the story to unfold as a whole, without the interruptions of commercials or weeklong gaps between episodes. 

It was clear to me that each season of Mad Men is conceived of as a long story, told in 13 parts, and held together over an extended arc. On DVD, I was enthralled by the way this story came together; the pacing I saw in uninterrupted viewing gave it and the characters an honesty that I thought spoke to exceptional storytelling ability. More than anything, though, I did not understand why some people found Mad Men boring.

by Elizabeth Wiggins

9 Aug 2010


From 16 and Pregnant

While it’s possible to level many criticisms at MTV’s current programming – the lack of music on “music television”, the disappearance of my childhood VJs, to name a few – the network’s development of serious documentary-style reality programming is adding some unexpected depth to its schedule. Tapping into the fraught battleground of teenagers, sex, and teen pregnancy, 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom attempt to turn an honest eye towards the day-to-day struggles of American teens – particularly teenage girls – as they become living consequences of the unresolved debate over teenagers’ access to information about sex, contraception, and romantic relationships. 

The popularity of 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom (season two debuted July 20 and continues to follow Maci, Amber, Farrah, and Catelynn from season one of 16 and Pregnant) speaks directly to MTV’s desire to participate in thoughtful storytelling and to a real social need to discuss what, exactly, teen pregnancy looks like, what social forces prompt it, and how it can be prevented.

by Nathan Pensky

5 Aug 2010


Explanation is usually only necessary when a joke isn’t readily funny. However, some A-material contains narrative layers of nuance which defy a single pass. One such moment happens in the season four premiere episode of the American version of The Office.

In “Fun Run”, the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflen Paper Company is all atwitter over the recent accident of a co-worker. Branch manager Michael Scott has made the office’s scare with vehicular manslaughter his latest pet project, mainly because his was the vehicle and he the man who almost did the slaughtering. Though Meredith, Dunder Mifflin – Scranton’s resident alky, survived being hit by Michael’s car with only minor injuries, her hospital stay fortuitously allowed doctors to diagnose and treat a much more serious Rabies infection. In other words, had it not been for getting hit by Michael’s car, Meredith probably would have died.

by Joseph Fisher

5 Aug 2010


Image from the front page of the Cupcake Wars website

George Edergly Harris III in Heaven have we ignored the legacy of the 1960s? If global catastrophes like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the recent BP Oil Spill, and the depletion of the Arctic ice pack have not demonstrated how deeply we have misunderstood the ideology of flower power, then a quick peek at your weekly Travel Channel and Food Network programming guides should accomplish that in an instant.

by Rachel Michaels

4 Aug 2010


Benedict Cumberbatch as the new Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as his loyal friend, Doctor John Watson

The BBC’s three part series Sherlock embeds Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson firmly within the London of 2010. This Holmes and Watson are not relics of the British Empire but thoroughly modern men thriving in our fast-paced, modern world. They have the contemporary tools of texting, GPS, email, the Internet, PDAs and, of course, forensic science at their fingertips, but it is how Sherlock uses these tools that continues to set him apart as the world’s only “consulting detective”.

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Call For Papers: Celebrating Star Trek's 50th Anniversary

// Announcements

"To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the hit franchise, PopMatters seeks submissions about Star Trek, including: the TV series, from The Original Series (TOS) to the highly anticipated 2017 new installment; the films, both the originals and the J.J. Abrams reboot; and ancillary materials such as novelizations, comic books, videogames, etc.

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