"After three excellent seasons," writes The New York Times' Ross Douthat
"I took it for granted that the saga of Don Draper was the best show on
TV--the rightful heir, insofar as one could possibly exist, to 'The
Sopranos' and 'The Wire.'" But now he's pushing back at this
conventional wisdom. Mad Men has one big weakness, Douthat says: the
opacity of its characters. To put it simply, "we don't quite understand
what makes its protagonists tick," and at some point that moves from
being a good thing to a bad one: "what's struck me watching
'Breaking Bad' is how much more invested I am in its characters as human beings
than I am in any of the leading players on 'Mad Men.'" Here's his final
verdict on the insufficiency of Betty's hint of a pout when it comes
to creating a real audience connection:
As a brilliant (if
ever-so-slightly pretentious) screenwriter's experiments in
telegraphing psychological complexity, they're impressive and engaging
and sometimes even transfixing. But I'm not as invested in their fates
as I might be if their motivations were a little less complexified, and
their psyches somewhat more transparent.
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
hhorn at theatlantic dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.