Discussion in 'Entertaining Diversions' started by Athryn, Jan 14, 2012.
One of the better D&D alignment charts I've seen:
Returns on April 7, for those paying no attention to my random bullshit in the other thread.
I don't think many of these make much sense given the characters. SPOILERS FOLLOW:
- Lane as LG? Hardly, he embezzles from the firm, cheats on his wife, lies about money, etc. I don't know of any main character that's actually LG on this show.
- Don as True Neutral?!? No way. "The universe is indifferent" is not neutrality, it's nihilism.
- Betty as CE? Way off here too. Betty is small-minded and self-absorbed, but she's hardly chaotic or evil. Chaos is anathema to Betty, and I don't think she hurts people just to enjoy their pain.
I will give it some points for Roger and for Pete, and Peggy is close (fundamentally good, but she usually does follow the rules) but for the most part I don't think these really hold up. Cool idea, though.
They don't hold up because the notion of the D&D alignment grid is silly and doesn't apply to real people with actual motivations and thus doesn't apply to well written fictional characters with proper motivation either.
I don't disagree, but I think you're pointing out the inherent flaws in the alignment system itself.
(edit: Kinda what TrunkDr just said, heh)
Lawful Good isn't incorruptible, if it were then every story ever would suck. Even role-playing would suck. Without crossing the line you wouldn't know when to cross back, and Lane had deeply regretted (to the point of drastic action and loathing) every failure he ever made.
Nihilism and neutrality aren't mutually exclusive. You just have to choose when to be indifferent. Don is the perfect neutral that's always trying to find a balance. A lot of the show's drama comes from his attempts at it. Think about some of his more eccentric actions, the ones where we think "Jesus Don, you're a dickhead," but he's not doing it to be a dickhead at all.
Betty is consciously and voluntarily self serving. Chaotic Evil very frequently makes the jump from Lawful Evil. She breaks her own rules and when she starts loathing her choices (again) she gets really manipulative and sociopathic.
I'm not arguing back to say that I'm right, only that these charts kind of require you to fit characters into interpretations that you may not have had while actually watching the show. It's also about a show that shows people over years of their lives trying to fit themselves into the world, and their worldview isn't always static... hence it's not always going to fit that chart.
Well yeah, I don't think anyone has ever held up the D&D alignment system as a complex and nuanced tool for understanding the deeper recesses of human nature. I don't think the problem is that someone made a humorous poster featuring the D&D alignments. It's that some of the characters here just don't fit the assigned roles
But he exhibited a persistent pattern of immoral, unlawful, and not "good" choices. Is a character truly Lawful Good if they repeatedly make decisions to the contrary? I understand what you're saying - he did show regret, which does make him somewhat notable on the the Mad Men spectrum, but shit... ROGER shows regret sometimes too, but he's adorably self-serving 24 hours a day.
Do you have some examples? I'm curious. I would never associate the word "balance" with Don Draper. At all. And it's not that he's indifferent, that quote of his is about the universe being indifferent. To Don, nothing in life has any meaning other than the meaning he creates for himself. I agree that he's not often a jerk just to be a jerk - it's not that he gets off on someone else's misery - but he's a jerk to get what he wants. Which isn't neutrality, IMO. (But true neutral is one of the weakest areas of the D&D system so this one is more vague.)
Almost everyone in the show is consciously and voluntarily self-serving, though. Including Lane, Peggy, Sally, even Megan. Betty is just bad at it and more childish about it, so it's more evident. I interpreted CE as, among other things, someone who willfully causes pain to others just for the enjoyment of it - and while you could make the point that Betty does that to Don (eventually), you have to admit that after the way he treated her, it wasn't exactly out of the blue.
Sure. For what it's worth, I'm talking about the characters over the course of the whole show, as we know them at the end of the most recent season.
Also, I'm only talking about this because it's interesting to think about these characters, not because I think the poster sucks or that it was dumb to post it.
I'm not sure he exhibits a pattern of it. I can only think of two instances, really, both of which created intense inner turmoil for him. Otherwise he's very loyal and very kind and chivalrous. Maybe I'm forgetting something. I think it's the weakest fit on that chart, for what it's worth, but it's hard to think of anyone else being "Lawful Good" on the show. I suppose Henry Francis (Betty's husband) or Jane Sterling (Roger's recently divorced young wife), but they're not really interesting enough to put up there, probably Salvatore Romano (the gay artist/director that unfortunately isn't in the show now).
He's not indifferent, but he recognizes the silliness in taking the position that he was arguing against (that anti-corporate contrarian beatnick crap). By balance I'm thinking of when he did his ad-revolt against the tobacco company that dropped him. And his desertion of his old family as a way to make his life "right." I'm not certain that I'm right, but it seems like the difference between something like Neutral Good and Neutral Evil is that the decisions aren't made with any intent on outside persons, whereas Peggy tries to do what she thinks is good and Roger tries to do what he think is self-beneficial or with internal prejudice.
Another candidate for True Neutral would be Bert Cooper, which isn't surprising since Bert sometimes sees Don as a younger version of himself.
True, but she still made the choice to do it, and the reasons were for it are generally seen as evil (revenge, contempt, jealousy). She also becomes directly manipulative and mean, with her daughter and Glen, with the young guy and her "best" friend, with Megan Draper. I think Betty is a better fit at Chaotic Neutral.
I don't think Peggy is self-serving. It's kind of a reach of the definition to apply that as an alignment choice to anyone that's just climbing the social ladder for financial or personal gain. It's how they do it that matters, and Megan is a bit like Peggy.
For other interesting fits I would put Joy (young sexy nomad Don meets in LA) into Chaotic Neutral. Paul Kinsey (bearded dude that smokes pot and finds absolution in whatever crazy ass religion he's taken up) would make a much better Chaotic Good than Sally.
I was thinking Sal, too. I get mad every time I remember that he was in the show and then was booted. He was one of my favorite characters. Jane would be a bit of a stretch, though Henry could fit.
Yeah, Jane's awful. And I still miss Sal and continue to hope he'll be one of the characters they bring back. That whole storyline you get hints of with Sal and his wife (especially via that visit from Ken Cosgrove) - it just kills me not knowing where that went.
Pogo you raise some good points but I'm short on time, suffice to say I agree to a point but still differ on some interpretation, both of the alignment 'traits' and the characters' actions in the show. Now that I've finished watching all five seasons, I'm more interested in talking about the show and the characters than the D&D stuff.
I hear ya.
First, I think that somebody needs to say NEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRDS. The universe demands it.
Second, it's a shame Sal's not around, but I'd be a little surprised to see him come back into the picture now in anything more than a guest role (and he'd look terrible as a Hare Krishna - Bryan Batt requires hair). He's just been gone so long at this point. Granted, Matt Weiner gets to basically do whatever he wants until this contract is up, so he could make that sort of television-unwise kind of move, but everything they said at the time ("You're out of the firm, you're off the show," though that has been walked back a little with Betty) and the sheer volume of days between his last appearance and now makes me think that he's probably gone for good.
Yeah, I don't really have any expectation Sal will come back, it's been four seasons now. In season 2, maybe, but by now, yeah. Cameo role if anything. I just feel like you could have so much more involvement with him.
Anyway, getting away from D&D but looking at the characters' morality and self-interest, I do agree that Lane is certainly one of the 'better' characters on the show, whether he meets L-G status or not. But still, he has affairs, steals money, etc. And Henry Francis is an interesting case, because you're kind of ready to think he'll be a slimeball (he did effectively seduce a married woman) who'll just use Betty, but he actually turns out to be good for her and a stand-up guy... sort of. (Until and unless Betty makes him look bad in a political situation.)
With Betty, I think she is easily disliked given that she's manipulative and bitchy and not the best mom. But I don't see most of it as calculated or deceitful. She's still just a teenager, mentally and emotionally - and apparently that's not surprising given her family and marriage to Don.
The thing that's great about this show is that almost everyone is pretty fucked up, but they all have pretty good reasons to be.
So Alabama played A&M in the Cotton Bowl on January 1, 1968.
Anyone have any idea whether that comic they were fretting about was a real person? Sounds like Carlin.
This article speculates that it was Milt Kamen. More importantly, it talks about the commonplace nature of the atrocities that were going on at the time.
Jesus - are they intentionally trying to have people look like other people that they aren't at this point? Peggy is dating Jim Croce, one of the SCDP creatives is clearly channeling Zach Galifianakis, and the extremely Jewish one is, of all people, doing Eric Balfour, which is an inadvisable decision on any number of fronts. And for no good reason whatever the hell Harry had going on distinctly reminded me of Elvis Costello for reasons I can't even begin to comprehend. And this is probably entirely me, but for the first couple of scenes I couldn't tell that Jessica Pare was, in fact, Jessica Pare, on the beach because of those gargantuan glasses, but in the first scene back at the room because from that shot, with that lighting, she looked an awful lot like Elisabeth Moss, and I can't tell whether that's just me being me or if that was on purpose. And are there any shows Michael Gaston isn't in? I guess anything with Xander Berkeley. But still - let other people take some jobs, dude.
Also, just to confirm that I'm not hallucinating, Sally's balls dropped over the break, right? Her voice seemed different to me.
Either way, the squatting hippies need better culinary training - there aren't any lentils in any goulash I've ever had. It's potatoes, with corn starch as a thickener - that's all the starch in the soup. It's all the starch in this soup, at any rate, which is easily the best goulash I've ever had, and it is certainly extra German. And while we're on food - I thought fondue parties were a seventies thing? I guess Don and Megan are supposed to be on the cutting edge of culture, before it went all plebeian. And for some reason I have them associated with swinging, but maybe that's just because the blonde lady was within shouting distance of straight giving Don a lap dance at the time.
The episode got off to a little bit of a slow start for me - it felt like so many random scenes from people on their summer vacation. I think maybe Weiner is getting used to this two hour premier thing and letting himself get a little languid and fat. Things tarted to tighten up after about the first half an hour, but it seems like there's maybe five minutes he could have cut there to fit, but I'm sure that Firewall and Iceberg will explain to me what it is that I missed watching it myself.
The joke with the goulash was there was only one of the ingredients that they even had remotely right, and that was paprika. There's also an American midwestern dish called Goulash that can have almost anything in it, but usually has pasta, ground beef, and tomatoes of some form.
And yes, there were fondue parties in the '60s.
How creepy was Betty's pillow talk to Henry, about the teenage girl in the other room? Holy shit.
I thought that the cut of meat that they got fit, didn't it? And they had onions. I was figuring it was just some weird recipe that I'd never run across because I was lucky enough to fall ass backwards into the perfect goulash my first time on the field. And that is in no way an attempt by me to get Rudi to give me a free meal in exchange for viral marketing services.
For a moment or two Henry seemed quite uncomfortable and I thought it was going to turn into a "WTF Betty" moment that would show some more tension in their marriage. I seem to remember a few times in previous episodes where Betty and Henry have some problems that are pretty clearly Betty being an asshole or petty or whatever. But instead he just kinda smiles and says "all right." Was Betty just being weird, or was she jealous of a young and talented girl, or was she just fucking with Henry for whatever reason?
It felt like some self-loathing to me. It felt like she was saying that he had no interest in her so he must have some interest in some hot young thing (or anyone but her). Then at the end she dyes her hair brown. Poor Betty needs some attention. At least they gave her something halfway noble to do in this episode.
D.T. I forgot the hair-dye. That was great. Both kids instantly hate it (kids in general hate change in appearance of their parents as far as I can tell [my dad shaved his mustache off when I was three -- I cried for ten minutes], so that isn't especially telling) and you can see on Henry's face that he has to make a very conscious decision to compliment her, which I liked. I kinda wish she'd fucked the noble deed up more, but when she did defiantly take the violin from the squatter/hippy dude and didn't know what to do with it a minute later nearly satisfied my Betty-hate.
That's a condition called "being married". There's only one right answer to the question, "What do you think?"
I thought last season ended in 1966 when Don was listening to "Tomorrow Never Knows" from Revolver.
They sometimes make time jumps like that. They pretty much have to, given how long the gaps are in shooting. The kids are growing up.
Shame, it would be interesting to see how they would have handled the drastic shift in marketing when everyone jumped on the "hippie" bandwagon.
I did like her snippy response to the dude claiming he was gonna learn violin: "Oh, because it's so easy."
They spent so much time building up the doctor as a paragon of awesomeness (He saves lives! He is intelligent and wise! He has a sense of humor! He skis through the snow in the dead of night to save even more lives!). And Don kept staring at him, like he was in awe, or in the grip of a man-crush, or something. I was thinking that perhaps this season we would occasionally see Don with an actual, normal friendship outside of work. Silly me; I apparently can't tell the difference between man-crush staring and guilty-deer-in-the-headlights staring. You fooled this time, Mad Men writers... but never again!
They did in this episode.
I don't think they do time jumps to accommodate the child actors, they've recast the younger boys a couple of times, they do it because Weiner has specific things he wants to address in the show, and he has a time table. 1968 is a big year, an important year, and I think it ties in to the whole existentialist themes of the show.
It's actually the shortest time jump they've done between seasons as I understand it.
Well, in all fairness, at least one of the boys was fired because he said, in so many words, that January Jones is a gigantic bitch. So now he ruins a different show.
Well by literally all accounts she is!
Also I would die a happy man if Weiner Jr's creepy character fell off the face of the show.
I haven't watched the latest. So this isn't about that. However, I found this surprising enough to mention - that lady that Don's boning down on now? That's Lindsay Weir. Or Linda Cardellini, for anybody who didn't see Freaks and Geeks.
Edit: Also, for this and other insights, you should listen to this podcast, at least for the duration of the season. You don't have to listen to the whole thing, but what they do at the end of every podcast while it's on really makes the series better, for me at least.
Velma Dinkley, or Samantha Taggart. I only caught Freaks and Geeks a couple months ago, so she's already set in my mind in the other roles.
Christina Hendricks needs more lines. I laughed at that. A whole bunch.
I hope that the show is trying to make me dislike Don. It was one thing when his wife was a juvenile harpy, constantly lashing out at anybody and everybody in the most unlikable way possible, but I actually have some genuine positive emotion for Megan. I want Betty to get hurt because she is an objectively awful human being, but Megan's nice. And Jessica Pare letting the show make her that deliberately unattractive, oddly enough, only makes her that much more endearing. And he's got shitty taste in cocktails, because every old fashioned I've ever had tasted like somebody spit a wad of used Doublemint into a glass of whiskey. In a related subject, did anybody else find Baby Dick to be completely and totally discontinuous with Grown Up Don or was that just me? If you're going to put the handsomest man in Hollywood right now (though I will agree that James Wolk can give him a run for his money in the right light) in you're show, you've got to cast handsome back into his adolescence, particularly when you're going to be calling him by a different name, or else you're going to confuse the stupids, and possibly also me.
So far as Pete goes, while I appreciate getting the opportunity to watch him try and fail to live up to Don in every respect, I do hope that the show plans to do something with that. I mean, it's not like there wasn't a strong death theme in that premiere, and there's still Checkov's gun unaccounted for...hint hint... And while I appreciate that Matt Weiner likes to hire very pretty women, maybe he could avoid picking somebody who looks quite so much like Noah Emmerich's wife on The Americans? I'm pretty sure that Katie Walder (Sherry - the other lady from the first scene of the episode) looks like somebody too, but I can't put my finger on who. I keep wanting to say Autumn Reeser, but that's not correct. Either way, the casting director for Mad Men either really likes Susan Misner and wants to help her out, or really doesn't like her and wants to confuse the hell out of the next people who see her in anything.
For the episode itself, I liked all the individual bits quite a lot (and I liked that it didn't have the sort of languid, overstuffed, lazy feeling that the top of the premier did), but I wish I had a better feeling for where the season wanted to go. I mean, I know where I want the season to go. I want Don to drive Pete to suicide/homicide, and possibly completely ruin both his wife (whom I like) and his girlfriend (toward whom I am largely indifferent at this point, since she frankly seems to be getting more of a charge out of screwing around on a very respectable person than Don), and for that to compound with his failures in understanding the people around him in similar situations from prior seasons to finally break him like a twig, but if we've got more than one season after this, that seems a little premature, and I don't want to end up substituting my own designs for what the show actually intends, so it'd be nice if Matt would scream the overall design he's got for the season at least as loud as he likes to shout his themes directly into our collective ears from time to time.
I like to think the writers hate her too, last season she was fat, now this season she has horrible hair. I predict next season she will get leprosy
I wish they hated her enough to just write her off the show.
Anyway this week's was good. Nice to see Trudy finally be somebody. The one scene with Joan just made me want more Joan, though... where the hell has she been this season?
Separate names with a comma.