On Blake O’Neill’s ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright – Mad Men S01E13’
Really cool post, you really come to appreciate just how vast your analysis of Don’s character and past is after reading the entire article. Reflecting on all you’ve written before you arrive at the ‘carousel’ scene helps me (and probably other readers too) in seeing strength in your final thought on the sequence: “One wonders whether Don is right in using his family for commercial success.” With so much family crisis occurring around Don, it becomes natural that he reflects on his contribution and loyalty to his wife and children. A moral man would have done so BEFORE he became estranged from his wife and indirectly caused his brother’s suicide. And while the ‘carousel’ scene seems to demonstrate Don in his most passionate and regretful state, it is the fact that he exploits his own personal trauma for the benefit of his career that speaks volumes about the inextricably job-orientated lifestyle Don will continue to pursue.

On Alex England’s ‘Big Love – Reinventing Genre
Good pick-up on McNutt’s reading of the first season! It’s easy to see how so many other narratively complex shows can initially wow audiences in their first seasons when introducing us to the utterly unfamiliar or ‘Other’ (a “moral” serial killer in ‘Dexter’ or Chem teacher-turned-Meth cook in ‘Breaking Bad’ come to mind here). To me, such shows tend to, at first, marginally exist within the boundaries of plausibility before script writers turn to melodrama and give in to constantly churning out the next big twist (eg. when a certain AMC anti-hero inadvertently causes two planes to crash into one another because he let a junkie choke to death on her own vomit. Really?).

On Steph Iversen’s ‘Narrative complexity, so on and so forth.
Narratively complex TV really does get viewed favourably when it is commonly associated with the positively-loaded term ‘quality’. I find that Mittell writes with a predominately academic voice (probably because he writes foundational texts in the ‘narrative complexity’ discourse) but I think one of his most intriguing statements comes from a personal account of his: “I much prefer watching high-quality conventional programs like ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’ and ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ to the narratively complex but conceptually muddled and logically maddening ’24’. I think this statement still problematises our preconceptions of unwatched TV because Mittell seems to suggest the label “high-quality” needs to prefix the conventional programs we enjoy (a treatment that our preferred narratively complex TV shows do not seem to undergo).

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