mad men season premiere


Grades are silly, shorthand for lazy writers. But a friend recently told me he liked it when I gave grades to TV series. And I just noticed that I did not give a grade to Mad Men, so maybe I should rectify that. The grades I’ve given out in the past lacked any specific standards, and they still do, but I’ll try here to explain what I mean by various grades.

As a teacher, I tend to practice a form of grade inflation. If you get an A from me, you deserve it, but at the bottom end, I’ve passed more than one student with a C because I’ll pass anyone who does the work and makes an effort. Grades work differently for works of art, not solely because one shouldn’t attach grades to artwork in the first place. As I have noted before regarding the ratings I give to movies, the curve is higher than normal, because I try not to watch movies I probably won’t like. I doubt I’ll ever see The Last Airbender, so I won’t be able to give out a 5/10 rating.

TV series work in a similar fashion. There is always going to be a good show that I missed out on, but more often, I miss out on shows I would never like in the first place. So there won’t be any Ds or Fs here … why would I watch such a show at all?

Thus, my TV grades work out something like this:

  • A range: the best shows
  • B range: shows I enjoy watching that aren’t great
  • C range: shows I used to watch but gave up on, so I have an opinion but it’s a poor opinion

And yes, I can attach +/- to finely tune the grades.

Mad Men gets an A. What else is on right now that I watch? True Blood gets a B+/A-, depending on my mood. I like it a lot, but think it is frivolous in ways that, say, Buffy was not. Lie to Me gets a B, maybe a B+ if I’m feeling generous. It’s a good show, works for us as a family of two since we both enjoy it, Tim Roth is great, and the relationship between his character and daughter is well-played. But there’s nothing more … its ambitions are met, it’s like a Joan Jett album that you like when you hear it and forget when you aren’t hearing it. Rescue Me … well, I’m trying for an example of a C, but I don’t watch Cs, and for all I know, Rescue Me is good again. But this show, which was a strong B+ at its peak, eventually convinced me to quit watching.