Nurse number nine

The backdrop for last night’s episode, “Mystery Date,” was the mass nurse-murders that took place in Chicago in 1966. Eight out of nine victims were brutally stabbed or strangled to death. The ninth escaped because she hid beneath the bed — the killer had lost count. New York is somewhat removed from the horrific event, but the shock reverberates and disturbs each character. This glint of sheer brutality against women colors the episode’s events a sickly shade of fear. The employees of SCDP are unable to comprehend what people are capable of — including themselves.

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Betty, bigger and better than ever

There are two things you should have noticed within the first minute of last night’s episode of Mad Men. First, it was directed by Jon Hamm. Second, Betty Francis, formerly Betty Draper, is fat. That’s right, folks, fat.

I couldn’t believe how much this traumatized me. January Jones is half the reason why I even watch this show. Now I guess it’s more like three-quarters. I was so accustomed to seeing the modelesque Betty smolder and fume in gorgeous 50’s attire. The opening scene has Betty feigning illness to skip her new husband’s event because she can’t fit into her dress. Formerly a model, she has “gotten comfortable” as a housewife and mopes in front of the television in the middle of the day in her robe and slippers. She’s still pretty, but she’s plump, and the depression and disappointment is written all over her face. Hamm handles Betty’s transformation subtly, but without losing any of its shock power. Shadowed cuts of her full form and brief glimpses of a more rounded arm communicate her condition quietly. As he should, Hamm glosses over the status quo of ideal thinness, because obesity and using amphetamines for weight loss are still unexplored territories for the characters.

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Mad Men returns with more vices and vixen

Mad Men Season 5

After almost a year and a half sabbatical, Mad Men has returned to television, with more alcohol and licentious behavior than ever. Accruing over 2.92 million viewers and 19 Emmy nominations last season, Mad Men sought to continue their lucky streak with a boldfaced advertising campaign for its long-awaited return, “Adultery is Back.” New York residents complained that the iconic billboards of a man falling through the high rises of New York City was insensitive to the events of 9/11. Whether or not the producers of this AMC hit needed to resort to such shocking ads, we’ll never know, but it certainly set the tone for the season five premiere this Sunday.

Praised for its visually pleasing set and periodic costumes, America has become quite attached to the cheating, drinking, lying, brown-nosing men, and women, of New York’s Madison Avenue c. 1960. Banana Republic even rolled out a Mad Men-inspired line of sheath gowns and sharp suits. The past four seasons have been a rollicking ride as the characters confront adultery, blatant sexism, various countercultures, identity crises, and racism, all while puffing at that ever-present cigarette and clinking that whiskey on the rocks.

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Smash brings audiences back to Broadway

NBC Smash

When I first read the description for NBC’s new show, Smash, I rolled my eyes and snorted derisively. “Another television series based on making musicals?” I thought.

I was right about the overabundance of clichés, that’s for sure. Every character seems to be shipped straight from central casting; you’ve got your stereotypical gay musical writer, your Type A diva extraordinaire, and even your bitter, smoldering director from across the pond.

But I must admit: after watching the first episode, I felt a connection with these characters, these cookie-cutter stock roles I never expected to sympathize, let alone fall in love with. This eclectic group of producers, choreographers, politicians, singers, parents, and dancers come together to commemorate Marilyn Monroe in a new musical. Their goal? Take Broadway by storm.

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Commentary Ticker

  • Google Glass Lets You Take Photos With Your Brain
    July 12, 2014 | 4:02 pm

    If you haven’t heard, electroencephalograms (EEGs) have been getting better. Way better. Artificial limbs and even video game controllers are utilizing the non-invasive brain-wave monitoring method to guide computers by thought. Now English startup This Place has developed a way to bring the technology to Google Glass, allowing Google’s wearable to read your mind. Well, […]

  • Android Art: The Accidental Selfies of Google Art Project
    July 5, 2014 | 11:11 am

    Within the cultural centers of the world lurks a mechanical beast draped in silver spinning madly and capturing everything, sometimes even itself. In 2011 Google created the Art Project, an initiative to bring their Street View technology inside the cultural epicenters of the world. Google enlisted 17 world-class museums in short time. Institutions such as […]

  • Purple Mountunes Majesty: The Most Patriotic Playlist
    July 4, 2014 | 12:13 pm

    A while ago, Paul Lamere of The Echo Nest, a music-analysis company, took to finding each state’s most distinctive, yet popular, artist in a viral article. Spotify took note, purchasing Echo Nest for their analytical talent. Together, they’ve released a blog post documenting each state’s most distinctively American song creating a patriotic playlist for the […]

  • Emojinealogy: Where the Heck Emojis Come From
    July 2, 2014 | 3:10 pm

    On June 16th, the Unicode Consortium announced that 250 new emoji would be added to the list of symbols available to people’s cellphones and computer devices. The list of the new symbols can be found on Emojipedia. And no, the list doesn’t include the much needed minority representation, but it does include your favorite (?) […]

  • The Decline and Fall of the American Mall
    June 24, 2014 | 9:07 pm

    For ages, the shopping mall was as essential to the architecture of suburbia as Levittowns and freeways. But in an era of online shopping, these epicenters of brick and mortar yesteryear are quietly being abandoned across the country. While the U.S. currently has around 1,500, the number may soon shrink, and rapidly, leading to abandoned […]

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