AMC, I’m watching you

I don’t mean that in a creepy way. I mean it in a literal way. It’s been an AMC kind of month for me, what with the end of Season 2 of The Walking Dead, the beginning of Season 5 of Mad Men, and my concurrent decision to stream Season 2 of Breaking Bad on Netflix Instant. (I’ve got two episodes left, in case you were wondering.) This network is keeping me thoroughly entertained (minus The Killing and Rubicon, which I and no one really care about), so I felt compelled to write about it. Normally (and more recently), I keep reviews of current shows confined to an occasional 140 characters, but I felt compelled to expand a bit on this AMC topic, as it’s been running my entertainment life for several weeks now. Let’s start with the undead, which left me a little unsettled.

The Walking Dead intrigues me enough that I’ll keep watching until they cancel it, which won’t be for awhile because it’s generally pretty fucking cool. There are gross zombies and exciting standoffs and it’s a fun, apocalyptic romp. But what the hell happened to the show I legitimately fell for last season? It’s a soap opera without the soap, because no one has showered in a really long time. Over the course of this second season, the characters began communicating too much and too intensely with all of this absurd, melodramatic, shitty dialogue. Granted, I can’t admit to knowing what I’d say were I in their situation, but I certainly wouldn’t be speaking straight out of a Hallmark Channel original movie. They all went from smart to insane to… plain inconsistent.

Look, I get the insane thing. Under the fascinating, terrifying circumstances of a zombie apocalypse, shit would get beyond real. No one would have any mental capacity to fully handle the situation. But one minute, these characters are kicking ass, and the next, they’re making idiotic decisions. Take Laurie, for example. Maybe it’s baby hormones or something, but she is behaving like a prize idiot. She runs around all hysterical, constantly screaming for Rick and Carl, crashing a car in order to find them when at most other times she proclaims her utmost faith in her husband’s decision-making. And then in the finale, when she got all offended that Rick offed Shane? Come on. Naivete will get you nowhere when the world’s coming to an end.

Rick, a.k.a. President of the Rickocracy, is just an asshole, which actually makes me miss Shane more now that he’s gone. He’s completely screwed up his ghostly kid, Carl (a.k.a. “Sure Shot,” a nickname given to him by my clever boss), who alternately acts younger and older than his actual age, which I assume is about 10. Carl misbehaves regularly, and even at his tender age is responsible for at least two deaths. Rick just goes along with this, of course, because he’s got bigger fish to fry, like ruling the universe or something. I hate them both now.

Herschel had been preaching about being a man of God, dying on his farm, staying sober, yada yada yada, but obviously the group of jerk misfits had an effect on his staunch morals. He’s now a member of the pack, he’s let an Asian Man into his daughter’s life (I won’t even get into that one), and he’s stepped up his badassery game. Too bad I hate him too.

I pretty much hate all of the characters now, because none of them are believable anymore. Andrea was ambiguously abandoned in the last episode, and I was just starting to like her again. And Darryl, the prick hick, save Sophia’s whiny mom instead of Andrea, so that sucks. The only likable person at the end of the season is the Token Black Guy. Sad that I don’t know his name, but it’s true. I hope he gets more than the occasional punch line or heavy lifting scene next season. I need a break from this… but there will come a time next year when I’ll want to know about that grim reaper with the two armless zombie slaves, and the show will come back to answer my question. I hope.

Mad Men really did show up at the perfect time. It had been gone too long, and then it came back with this unprecedented surge of free advertising for itself. I dislike showrunner Matthew Weiner, but he sure knows how to make his shit meta. The entertainment magazines have been FILLED with Mad Men hype, without any screeners to speak of, and he didn’t have to do a damn thing to prompt it except be his arrogant self and push back the start date half a year.

It really was good to see the sexist, racist, svelte gang back in action, and the icing on the cake was that Betty wasn’t even in the first episode! Sweet. I honestly didn’t miss her. I suspect it had to do with January Jones being knocked up in real life when this was shot, but whatever works. The season looks like it’s shaping up to be about how the independent heroes, like Don and Joan, get domesticated, and how they’re going to (attempt to) get their respective grooves back. The wrench in the monkey, however, is that they both appear happy with their settled-down-ness. Don has married Megan, whom I’m just going to refer to as Carly Simon from now on, and she sort of brushes past the bullshit and knows him, more than anyone probably thought she’d be capable of. It’s interesting, because he lived so secretly with his ladies up to this point, but Megan has an admirable power that makes him ignore this annoying trait about himself. She knows about Dick Whitman, she connects to his kids, she makes him smile, and she has ambition of her own. And Joan has a half-Roger baby on her hands, as well as a desperately housewivean mother. (See what I did there? Her mom was Martha Huber! And the new Bobby Draper is MJ Delfino! What the hell?) She assumes the motherly role more than we expected her to, but there are still so many things off about her life. I’m hoping we’ll find out what those things are as the season progresses.

I also hope we’ll find out more about the weird friendship between Megan and Peggy. I assume it has more to it than the fact that both of them have G’s in their names. I want Peggy to do something a little bigger with her life; she seems to be stagnant, even in this very progressive career of hers. I want to see the Pete-Trudy baby. I want Sally Draper to become a bratty teenager. I want Duck Phillips to come back so he can have an awkward meta scene with Joan’s mom. I want Roger Sterling to get all of the secretaries pregnant. And goddamnit, I want Sal Romano to come back. I still haven’t given up on him.

Mad Men will probably give me none of these things, because it is a deliciously unpredictable show, but I’ll forgive it because it’s beautiful. Jon Hamm heals all wounds. For the next twelve or so weeks, I’m on the mend.

Until I finish Breaking Bad, anyway. More on that later.

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