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A Running Commentary on Joyce Carol Oates' Massive Twitter Review of Mad Men

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mad-men-finale-01.jpgAfter the Mad Men series finale aired, many, many, many, many critics weighed in with their opinions--was it good? was it bad? did Don make the Coke ad? did he not make the Coke ad? will we ever recap again?--but a surprise thinker joined the conversation on Twitter: novelist Joyce Carol Oates, notorious for being very, very bad at social media, including vaguely coherent, casual disdain for Muslims or awkward "witty" comments about cats. With such a bright past, there are sure to be some gems in this extended Mad Men take (a genre already fraught with danger and potential stupidity). Let's move through the opinions of Joyce Carol Oates, TV critic:

One of the biggest differences between TV and film is that TV, for a variety of reasons, has the capacity to lead to more complicated projected interior lives for characters. So far I am with you, Joyce.


Hm... so here's a thesis -- she thinks that the ending is out of character for Don? That doesn't seem right at all. He starts the series with a big, famous ad pitch ("It's toasted," for Lucky Strike), and there have been more than enough hints that Don would make the ad. He's had so many epiphanies and backslid so many times that it seems perfectly reasonable to guess he would return to McCann. But go on...

Sorry, did you need a big, showy cut to black? Or for Don to get murdered? Or turn out to be a Cylon? Or secretly be Bob Newhart? Do you assume anything is inadvertent with this show? Say what you will about Matthew Weiner, the guy is a perfectionist.

Did you even see Don at the beginning of the episode? He looked like he'd been hit in the face with Bobby's frying pan. There's a real argument here somewhere about the way Betty has been mistreated for much of the show's run, but she's also one of the most important characters, and gets arguably the most noble sendoff. Truly, she is a trap queen.

A little distance? Meaning... what, 12 hours? And what shows are we talking about? THE GREAT EPICS. Like... this "epic dissatisfaction" with Mad Men?

Okay so this is where it gets really bad. No, Joyce, no. Megan is a great character and Jessica Paré is a great actress and the Calvet-Draper marriage is one of the most crucial storylines of the series, presenting Don with the opportunity to start fresh and then letting him waste it. And Roger and Marie are happy! What are you so salty about?

Are you crazy, Joyce? Literally the first episode of the half-season raises the specter of Don's first serious girlfriend, Rachel Menken, then uses the widely hated Diana the waitress as a stand-in for pretty much every interchangeable woman he ever dated and the impetus for his hobo trip.

Don is "in search of a single defining act?" You can just say "he's horny," we're all adults here.


All that from a Coke ad? Feels like Joyce is worried about the finale changing the meaning of everything that happened before, and while that could happen on some shows, it doesn't really seem like the point on this one. It's practically a cliche to say that Mad Men is a collection of short stories, but it's also true--and that means Joyce has even less reason to react like a teenager angry about the Lost finale.

CLASSIC JOYCE CAROL OATES--unnecessarily pithy, lots of rhetorical questions. Great job, everyone involved. This one is at least a second ballot entry to the @JoyceCarolOates hall of fame.


So close! But so far!

Nice one! Really funny stuff, but maybe we should take a break?

Uh oh, now we're back to general TV criticism--as far as I can tell, consistency is the most important thing here in her view, I think, giving the sense that there's a real person aging through a work of art. Mostly, this seems right. Except...

CHILL WITH THE MEGAN STUFF ALREADY DID YOU NOT EVEN LIKE "ZOU BISOU BISOU"

After the Seinfeld comparison, this seems like time for an empty metaphor about nothing...

There it is!

GOD DAMN IT, JOYCE "CINEMATIC" IS A BAD COMPLIMENT FOR TV IT'S ITS OWN MEDIUM AND DOESN'T NEED TO BE VALIDATED THROUGH COMPARISONS TO FILM JUST GIVE IT A REST ALREADY GOSH.

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