Monday, April 22, 2013

Dragons and ketchup

The takeaway lesson from this week's episode of Game of Thrones? Daenerys is a stone-cold badass. My only real complaint is that Arya Stark hasn't had a chance, yet, to kick ass properly. She's been a lot of talk and is showing a lot of guts, but the couple of times she's been given an opportunity to act it hasn't really gone her way.

And Mad Men continues to be complicated and awesome and beautifully-shot and impeccably acted and really honestly just the best show on TV. Its episodic format is still a bit of an advantage next to GoT's serialized storyline, with contained arcs and subplots every week rather than a couple of scenes per character in service to a greater, but as-yet-incomplete narrative.

The two shows have complimentary themes, though - a lot of this season of Game of Thrones seems to be setting up strong women, and how they play the political game just as well, although differently, than the men do. And in a lot of cases, the men don't even seem to realise they're being played. Mad Men on the other hand, at least when it comes to Don Draper, is about the declining importance of men's roles in the late 60s. As Megan's getting more successful in her acting career, it's undermining what Don sees as his position. She doesn't need him the same way he wants - or needs - her to and that's a threat that he reacts to in the usual Draper way: alcohol and affairs.

I'm not able to reliably speculate on what's going to happen in either show more than five minutes into the current episode so I don't know if there are larger points to make in each series, but Mad Men's basis in (a version of) reality certainly suggests it's going to see social changes impact the characters and their relationships. Game of Thrones doesn't have that same external pressure, but it's reassuring to see a show which started off with some questionable female characterization turning into a show where women increasingly hold all the power.

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