For our vigilance? Date nut bread, of course.
LOM is sorry to be late. We have been distracted this week.
The Attack Post Detector Alarm on the security control panel at the Suzanne Farrell Preservation Society home office has been blinking for days. On the wide screen wall monitor, it’s a large blue light, (that strangely at times looks yellow to LOM, but that could be due to all the bourbon) and it triggers an audio file that exhaustedly whispers “I want to scream” yet ironically never does. We appreciate the irony in here but we also fully understand what the warning means — somewhere on the internets someone is disparaging sweet Suzanne Farrell of Mad Men.
Well, we are finally monitoring the situation, communiques are being sent and a peaceable solution is certainly hoped for. After all, “Make love, not war” is a slogan we feel our favorite teacher would rally around.
A post at Basket of Kisses: The Restoration was what triggered the alarm. In it, Deborah analyses her dissatisfaction with the Suzanne Situation and comes to a meaningful insight which LOM wholly sympathizes with and enthusiastically endorses (and we’ll get to later). She lists some negative opinions regarding Suze but her epiphany at the end takes most of the bite out of her criticisms so we feel we will let this pass. However the comment section did seem to call for some cogent counterpoint so we put some thoughts there. Please read it all, The Basket as a forum, still exhibits the most agreeable ardor for the show.
The SFPS was founded because LOM felt there was a major injustice being done to Suzanne by a large number of the fans of Mad Men. There appeared to be an unusually large volume of fan-based dislike for Suzanne when she was initially brought into the Don Draper story. Some of this dislike festered, until by the end of S3 many fans made outright assertions of “bad acting”, “bad writing”, “bad casting” and all other manner of general bad-bad-badness. They expressed so much disappointment regarding Suzanne, we’re surprised no one beseeched Matt Weiner, the series creator, to do the only honorable thing left for him: commit seppuku. (Bert Cooper would have been impressed by the gesture btw) Only, of course, after he penned an untimely, painful (and silent?) death for Miss Farrell first, thereby saving their television show.
LOM did not understand in what this push back against Suzanne was rooted. LOM reflected and rewatched and reflected some more. Abigail Spencer’s acting was fine we felt. Besides, the judging of acting quality is highly subjective and open to many opinions. For example, some people LOM respects actually believe Sandra Bullock can act, (ed.- dammit man, she has the awards to PROVE it!). LOM’s jury is still out on this topic. But we allow for their opinion.
Abigail also looks the part of someone Don Draper would be attracted to. She’s very fetching and she shows some assertiveness. And we have no trouble believing she’s an idealistic elementary school teacher in suburban New York of the period. Nor do we have trouble believing she’s a sensual young woman whose passion and maybe loneliness have led her to make some romantic decisions that have not worked out as she would have liked. She displays a hard earned sense of realism in this area but perhaps hasn’t learned everything that she might have. Who hasn’t been there? None of this feels false to LOM. So casting and acting are not a legitimate issue really.
And the charges of bad writing are specious too. LOM could take some time and lay the specific accusations to rest. And we might when we get a day or two to really dig into them. But the general professional consensus is that the overall writing for the three seasons has been outstanding. We agree. We don’t feel the need to cite that claim to back it up. Read around. Suzanne as a character fits with the time and the place of the story as much as Bobbie, Midge, Rachel and Peggy. And as a character she serves as a bridge to the grassroots of the changes that will occur in the larger context of the story over their projected time span. LOM feels passionately we need more Suzanne, not less. However if they don’t bring her back, (ed.- LOM would be crushed you guys) we feel pretty confident they’ll need to introduce a similar character; just as conflicted, just as alluring, just as aware as Miss Farrell is.
But that last part is just conjecture. To this regard, Deborah has an awakening and hits the right note here in her post.
“Here’s the thing: Matt Weiner isn’t here to fulfill my expectations. The wish list we did a few days ago was fun, but he’s not here to tickle our fancies or make us happy. He’s following a vision; we’re along for the ride.”
That’s the important overriding point. It’s his story, his work of art, his expression. To bring one’s own expectations to the viewing is to practically demand personal disappointment. Take in what the artist gives you and respond to that. Resist the urge to compare it to your ideas and visions. Appreciate the story for what it is.
LOM practices Zen, he feels it helps. (But that is very un-Zen to express that thought, hmm. I’m conflicted.) Follow LOM’s lead. LOM doesn’t like all aspects of Mad Men (but he luvs him some Suzanne) yet he has learned to respect Mad Men. And he lets it surprise and entertain him.
Bring on Season Four. And try to speak nice of my girl please.