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Daily Reads: ‘Mad Men’ is TV’s Unsexiest Show, How Trevor Noah Can Save His ‘Daily Show’ Tenure and More

Daily Reads: 'Mad Men' is TV's Unsexiest Show, How Trevor Noah Can Save His 'Daily Show' Tenure and More

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1. “Mad Men” as TV’s Unsexiest Show. It’s “Mad Men” week over at The A.V. Club, and Genevieve Valentine writes that while there’s plenty of sex and ostensibly sexy stuff on the show, it’s actually TV’s unsexiest show (in a good way):

The thematically centered episodes that have become the series’ calling card make the most of this nihilistic refrain, often pitting sex against more resilient relationships, or pairing one doomed dalliance against another. And yes, with the possible exception of the Cosgrove marriage, they’re all dalliances. Whether a feverish hotel grope or a ten-year marriage, of the many ways “Mad Men” suggests people can come to understand one another, romance is almost always a swing and a miss. This is perhaps most obvious in the show’s central focus: Don, the serial adulterer, endlessly desperate to start over and voted most likely to look for it in bed with someone. His marriages are slow-motion disasters: His first ground to a halt, his second is slowly imploding across a continent. His conquests are so numerous as to approach self-parody; when he speaks to a woman he doesn’t sleep with later, it’s the show’s equivalent of a twist ending. Read more.

2. In Defense of “The Last Man on Earth.” Fox’s series “The Last Man on Earth” has a number of critics frustrated, but The A.V. Club’s Vikram Murthi defends the show:

I can see people dismissing “The Last Man On Earth” just on the basis of Phil’s characterization, but I feel like that dismissal somewhat misses the point of the series. In the beginning, Phil drove around the country desperately trying to find another living soul, and when he couldn’t find one, he regressed into both existential and physical squalor. He tried to kill himself when he realized he couldn’t simply subsist on talking to inanimate objects, but when his prayers were suddenly answered in the forms of Carol, Melissa, and Todd, Phil then realizes possibly for the first time that he’s not great with other people either. By being alone on Earth, Phil didn’t need to make the choice to be a good person because there was no one else to witness it, but now that he’s not alone, he’s beginning to remember not only how difficult it really is to make that choice, but also what’s at stake when he doesn’t choose. Read more.

3. The Unexpected Benefit of Full-Season Dumps. There have been arguments against the Netflix and Amazon model of putting an entire season of TV online at once, but Slate’s Aisha Harris writes that there’s a benefit to it:

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” has been a hit for Netflix and executive-producer Tina Fey, but almost as quickly as praise rushed in for the show, so did the criticisms taking aim at how it dealt with race. In particular, Dong, Kimmy’s beau, and Jacqueline, Kimmy’s employer, have come under fire for their respective representations of Asian men and Native Americans… It’s a good thing that people are thinking about and questioning these aspects of the show. But the fact that all of these criticisms had to wait until after all of Season 1 had been released is an undoubtedly good thing, too. We’ve seen repeatedly how it can impair a show when writers feel the need to react quickly to mounting dissent against their work. The prime example of this may be Aaron Sorkin, notorious for addressing outside criticism in his shows, often clumsily. Episodes of “The West Wing” were mostly written as the season went along, mere weeks in advance, which made it quite easy for him to adjust plot points and narratives. After the 1999 season premiere’s lack of diversity drew protests from the NAACP, a bunch of minority characters suddenly appeared in subsequent episodes. Read more.

4. Can Trevor Noah Save Face? Trevor Noah has come under fire for offensive tweets about Jews and overweight women, among other things. The Washington Post’s Alyssa Rosenberg writes about how he can save his tenure on the show:

NPR’s Linda Holmes noted that Noah’s arrival in the anchor’s chair may shift the perception of the show from “a pure expression of Stewart’s sensibility” to a more writer-focused enterprise. “With Noah being so much younger and newer to the scene than Stewart has been for many, many years — and so much less familiar to much of the audience — we may see a shift toward the show being treated as less of a tour de force and more of a collaboration, which probably represents it more honestly, particularly while he’s getting himself established,” Holmes wrote… Noah should take that opportunity. At some point, he’ll have to answer to critics of those tweets and explain how he has grown as both a comedian and as the progressive political thinker he claims to be. When he does, he should pair that narrative with real action, explaining what kind of writers and correspondents he wants to surround himself with and what he hopes to learn from them. If Noah’s big selling point is that he offers a fresh perspective to the audience for “The Daily Show,” then he should demonstrate that he values the same thing in his own staff. Read more.

5. The Women of “Outlander.” Ellen Gray of the Philadelphia Daily News speaks with the cast and creative team behind Starz’s show “Outlander”.

“These books are about a lot of different things, but one of the things they are about is about sex and violence,” [“Outlander” author Diana] Gabaldon said. “And I don’t mean that they include sex and violence as a means of, you know, drawing the audience in or titillating them. I mean it is about sex and violence, what those mean to people and how they handle them.” Read more.

6. Behind “Going Clear.” Both the book and film of “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief” have upset the Church of Scientology, and their magazine, Freedom, has tried to contact those involved with the book and film for interviews since. Amy Kaufman of The Los Angeles Times investigates both sides:

Gibney, however, said that the Freedom reporter’s appearance at Wright’s hotel might be “something close to harassment.” “That’s a little precious,” said Dan Luzadder, Freedom’s investigative reporting editor, in a telephone interview. He said his reporter was attempting to drop off a list of questions for Wright and denied the filmmakers’ claims that the visit constituted harassment. “They’re public figures, and they’ve promoted that fact. They’re constantly being approached by reporters. Do they object to being approached by one from Freedom?” Asked how he tracked down Wright’s hotel, the editor replied, “I don’t know. When you’re tracking a band in L.A., how do you find them? Someone else handled that.” Read more.

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