Sunday, May 31, 2009

TV on the Internet, Episode 10: Which is Better? Mad Men or Breaking Bad?

We're back after our short hiatus to talk about the pressing question of the moment: Which is better, Mad Men or Breaking Bad? Also, we've got a summer TV preview and thoughts on the few season finales we didn't touch on earlier. Thanks for all your comments and criticism. They're helping us make the show better. If you like us, please review us on iTunes. We WILL take out the Official Lost Podcast! We WILL!

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Look after the jump for complete details.

TV on the Internet, Episode 10: Which is Better? Mad Men or Breaking Bad

Here's a direct link to the episode.

Time codes follow. There are MAJOR SPOILERS for a variety of shows, so you may want to skip over a segment if you haven't watched the shows discussed therein.


00:00.00-00:01.42: Introductions and music from Buckwheat Zydeco
00:01.43-00:13.06: The week's headlines.
00:11.56-00:26.08: Libby and Todd preview everything that's coming to your TVs this summer.
00:26.09-00:39.27: Todd and Libby discuss whether Mad Men or Breaking Bad is the better show.
00:39.28-01:08.42: Discussing the weeks in television. (Includes spoilers for How I Met Your Mother, American Idol, Glee, Ugly Betty, Southland, So You Think You Can Dance, Rescue Me, The Fashion Show, The Real Housewives of New Jersey and In Treatment.)
01:08.43-01:18.02: The classic TV on DVD pick, the wrap-up, the announcement of our contest winner and more from Buckwheat Zydeco.

Headline Links:

Jay Leno Takes Final Bow on Tonight Show (New York Times)
Scottish Singer Susan Boyle's Fairy Tale Stops Short (Los Angeles Times)
Surviving Suburbia Can't Survive New Timeslot (Variety)
Jon & Kate Premiere: Will You Watch? (Entertainment Weekly)
The CW's Schedule for the Fall TV Season (The Associated Press)

This Week's Music:

Lay Your Burden DownBuckwheat Zydeco
"Ninth Place" (mp3)
from "Lay Your Burden Down"
(Alligator Records)

More On This Album

Clips are from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Burn Notice (episode: "Lesser Evil," script by Matt Nix), Breaking Bad (episode: "Phoenix," script by John Shiban), How I Met Your Mother (episode: "The Leap," script by Craig Thomas and Carter Bays), So You Think You Can Dance, The Fashion Show, In Treatment (episode: "Gina: Week Seven," script by Marsha Norman) and Deadwood (episode: "E.B. Was Left Out," script by Jody Worth).


(We'll post 'em as you make 'em.)

A Podcast Recommendation:

I love the new video games Web site, and their new podcast is aces as well.


Daniel said...

I haven't gotten in Breaking Bad yet (although you can bet that after hearing people like Todd, Libby, and Alan Sepinwall rave about the second season I'm going to get into it this summer during the down time); but I would like to take issue with Todd's assertion that people don't change in Mad Men. It seems to me that Pete, Peggy, and Betty have all changed substantially over the course of the series.

- Betty has lost some cherished illusions, become angrier and more aware of what power she has, and opened up more than she ever did when we first met her in the beginning of season one. In the season one finale, Betty can't admit to her closest friend that Don has cheated on her--she reacts as if she herself was caught out--but by the end of season two she's telling Helen Bishop that Don's left home, asking Francine about procuring an abortion, and even opening up to Sally.

- Pete no longer seems to believe in the value of professional advancement by any means necessary (which is why he lets Clearasil go when it becomes clear that the price is adopting a child, and why he lets Don know that Duck is making a play for control over Sterling Cooper), and is loyal to both Don and Peggy in a way that would have been inconceivable in season one.

-Peggy of course has grown in self-confidence over the past two seasons, and by the end of the second season is capable of taking the reaction of the chipmunks to her new office in stride, no longer being threatened by the idea that some of her male co-workers don't respect what she does. By the end of season two, she's also more conscious of the fact that the path she's chosen has required some personal sacrifice.

I think the theme of Mad Men is not that people don't change, but that in a time of great social upheaval, some people change while other people double down on who they already are. Somebody like Peggy is capable of growth; somebody like Sal, on the other hand, is trying to actively prevent change in his personal life because he doesn't like where it will lead.

Todd said...

I knew I'd get slammed as soon as that left my mouth, and I don't really mean it. I mean a version of it, but I never got a chance to go back and clarify.

I think Breaking Bad is about one man taking the initiative to change, while Mad Men is about the way that circumstances manage to reveal a bunch of people's unchanging inner natures (Don has always had wanderlust; Peggy has always had a good instinct for the ad business). This seems a bit more muddled than it was before (particularly since Breaking Bad this season has been more about how some things in Walt's inner nature predisposes him to be a pretty good drug kingpin), but it's more or less what I meant.

Daniel said...


I hope I didn't come across as slamming you; I'm a big fan of the podcast and your work in general, and that wasn't my intention.

Re: your post, I can definitely see your interpretation as explained above. I would still disagree, though; I read the show to be much more about how a person's early choices put them on a trajectory that it's very difficult to leave later on in life.

I think Peggy's a good example of that. She could have been the sort of person who prioritized finding a man, and given her professional life short shrift as a consequence. In that alternate reality, she would have still had instincts for advertising, but they would have gone undeveloped. But she made other choices, and now I think it would be much harder for her to leave her professional life behind like so many women did. I think this is the sort of process that she was talking about in her beautiful monologue at the end of the season two.

Jason Mittell said...

To answer your question about In Treatment without Byrne - I'd definitely watch. What I hope they do is focus on another younger therapist, who is being supervised by Paul, allowing GB to work only one episode a week and thus maintaining his sanity.

Carrie said...

I am going to be covering NYC Prep and True Blood for Zap2it this summer. If you could give me a shout out when you start talking about True Blood, that would be awesome. (I don't care about NYC Prep shout outs. That's a pure money gig. Ha. However -- I watched the preview special and one of the dudes wants to be Chuck Bass so much it's almost painful. I'm going to have fun with that.)

I can't believe you didn't mention that Secret Life of the American Teenager is coming back this summer, Todd. I know how you love it so.

I'm totally with you on Southland. I'll keep watching (because apparently I'm Ben McKenzie's bitch, but in my defense he does take his shirt off sometimes) but it's just so bland and strange and disjointed. I especially thought the "shocking event" at the end of the finale (Tom Everett Scott getting shot) was poorly telegraphed and yet not random enough to be an awesome random act of violence. If they're doing this to get rid of TES's character, however, I'm completely on board because his character is pointless, ill-defined and doesn't fit into the ensemble at all.

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