We can't be the only ones who had that reaction upon seeing the Times Magazine's splashy Mad Men cover story, declaring the AMC series, heading into its second season next month, "the smartest show on television." We shamefully haven't caught the first season of the show — by the time Nussbaum and Sternbergh starting telling us how good it was, in unison, last summer, we just had fallen too far behind and were secretly hoping it would tank so we wouldn't have to catch up. But thanks to the stupid New York Times Magazine, we can't put it off any longer. Now we have to (sigh) go buy the DVDs of season one when they come out on July 1, and (sigh) sit down in front of our TV, and (long sigh) watch all thirteen hours of it. And then we have to watch the new season too! We're sure it'll be great, but jeez, that's a lot of hours.
Alex Witchel's cover story doesn't do that much to get us excited, by the way. As usual with coverage of Mad Men, the article focuses heavily on the show's fetishistic attention to period detail (down to rejecting one actress due to collagen in her lips), HBO's chumpitude in rejecting the series, and creator Matthew Weiner's bristly genius. "For 41 of [Weiner's] 42 years he has not been a star, and he is not used to presenting himself as a brand — and hallelujah for that," Witchel writes. But of course the cynic's view is that this non-persona is itself a persona, one that — employed intentionally or not — makes him and his show seem like TV ingénues, ready for anointing by the culture gurus at the Times Magazine as the Next Big Thing.
Which apparently it is. Let the Wire-esque praise escalation begin!