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Should I Root for a Mad Men Spinoff? Your TV Questions, Answered

Photo: AMC and NBC
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Photo: AMC and NBC

Welcome back to Stay Tuned, Vulture’s TV advice column. Each Wednesday, Margaret Lyons will answer your questions about what to watch, when to watch it, whom to watch it with, and how to feel about the whole thing. To submit your own questions, you can email, leave a comment, or tweet @margeincharge with the hashtag #staytuned.

Mad Men will end next summer. Surely AMC is thinking about ways to extend the franchise, Better Call Saul style. Could this ever work? Would you want it to? Is it okay if I want it to? —LB

I’d give anything for Mad Men’s reign to continue. I’ve written more about Mad Men than any other show I’ve ever covered, and I’ve obsessed over it for so long, it’s hard for me to picture my work life without it. I love it so, so much, and once it’s over, all these ideas I have about it won’t have anywhere to go anymore. I’m already nervous. Will I have to take up gardening or something? Is this what getting divorced is like?

But I don’t think Mad Men is spinoff-able. Matthew Weiner seems profoundly unlikely to do another series at AMC, and I wouldn’t want to watch something else in the MM universe that didn’t include him. But even if he agreed, I don’t know if there’s another character whose story we’d really want to follow either backwards or forwards in time: We know everyone’s backstories really well. We’ve met most of their parents, we’ve been to their homes — I know why Pete’s Pete and Joan’s Joan, you know? So a flashback series, like Saul, doesn’t have the same kind of allure. Keeping the show going without Don as the central figure would feel like celebrating Christmas without Santa (or … Jesus).

If you’re absolutely insisting, though, and I have to come up with something, here it is: I’d make a show about the glory days of Ida “the Queen of Perversions” Blankenship. Unlike most of the other characters, we know very little about her life, so there are plenty of gaps to fill in. We also know she has unusual mannerisms, and I’m curious about their origins. Plus, female sexual empowerment in the ‘30s and ‘40s is territory very, very few shows acknowledge or explore. The show could be called Blank. Ta-da!

I just rewatched Party Down and I’ve realized all I really want out of a show is impeccable, funny chemistry between the two romantic leads. Any suggestions on how to fill this void? The only couple I’ve watched that’s come close is Jim and Pam in the first half of The Office. —Annie
Enough murder shows. What are your recommendations for great romantic TV, like Jim and Pam–level swoon? —Alice
I put both these questions in because I was surprised to see you both cite Jim and Pam as an example of TV love — not because they’re a bad example, but because it struck me that it has been ages since we’ve had a really pervasive TV love to root for. The upcoming fall season is trying to remedy that. I … didn’t love-love any of the new rom-com-y shows.

One of the things that draws us to Jim and Pam — and drew many of us to The Office’s early years in general — was the deep ordinariness of it. These are supposed to be just regular, dumpy people in awkward cardigans, but even they have a magical love! I am sorry to tell you that there is no “PB&J” right now. Remember how fans called them PB&J? I used to work at Entertainment Weekly. I remember.

Given our limited options, then, Parks and Recreation comes the closest, I think, though I am in the radical minority for not loving Leslie and Ben as much as other people do. I mean, I love them together, sure, but for me, the much more compelling couple is April and Andy. (I never, ever bought Ann and Chris. Sorry.) I’m partial to Danny and Mindy on The Mindy Project, though I don’t think of them as Jim and Pam so much as Luke and Lorelai — where we the audience are doing most of the pining. Playing House on USA doesn’t get anywhere near the attention it deserves, but it’s fantastic and funny and lovely and has a strong will-they-won’t-they-I-want-them-to romance between Jessica St. Clair and Keegan-Michael Key. You’re the Worst has the enjoyable rhythms of a rom-com, though its lead characters are more cruel and dangerous than Jim or Pam could ever dream of being.

Is Community really that good? And if so, when does it get good? I tried to watch season one, but I wanted to kill Joel McHale and the blonde actress. They hate each other, they like each other — they bugged me too much to enjoy the characters who looked more fun. I heard it gets better … at some point. Where should I pick it up? I typically have TV OCD, and it drives me crazy to miss an episode or watch out of order. Can I overcome it? —Emily
I don’t think you’re going to like Community, Emily. If you don’t like Jeff and Britta’s bickering, this is not the show for you.

For months and months, my friends and family have been telling me to watch Game of Thrones. Finally, I gave in and started watching it, and I don’t love it! I’m midway through the second season and, while I love the dragons, not much else is grabbing my attention. I want to like it, but it’s not happening. Is it because I know all the spoilers, or do I just not like Game of Thrones? Is that even possible? Should I keep pushing on? —Ruby
You gave it a good try, Ruby! You don’t like Game of Thrones, Emily doesn’t like Community, we are all going to be just fine.

Not liking things is allowed. This is one of Stay Tuned’s guiding philosophies. We should try things, and we should be okay with liking or not liking them. If I got you a shirt that didn’t fit you, you wouldn’t keep wearing it just because I said it did fit, right? God, I hope not. I have fantastic taste in shirts, trust, but why would other people be more right about your taste than you are?

It drives me nuts when I recommend a show to my friends, they don’t watch, then three years later, they “discover” it and start raving. They never remember I suggested the show and I want to yell at them, “I told you you’d love it!” How do I stop being annoyed? —MindyB
Mindy, here is a brief play about my life:

Friend or loved one: Margaret, have you heard of [show]?
Me: What? Yes, I’m the one who told you about that show. Repeatedly.
FOLO: Really? Well, I started watching it, and it’s so good!
Me: Wha? Yes, I know! I told you! I even wrote about it a bunch of times. When you posted that article on Facebook about the show … I wrote that. That was my article.
FOLO: [Jumps on old-ass motorcycle and hightails it away, à la Indiana Jones]
{ fin }

So, I feel you. The best way to stop being annoyed is to look at animals on the internet. I like Animals Sitting on Capybaras, which does exactly what it says. I also enjoy every single aspect of the wombat sanctuary’s website (“Where wombats dominate and humans accommodate!” Good-bye, I have a new life now). My favorite farm blog stopped updating regularly, but this farm blog is okay, too. Baby goats. Puppies. More puppies. A cat. Baby zoo animals. The list goes on.

Should I Root for a Mad Men Spinoff?