The Corner

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In response to our televisual discussions yesterday, some readers offer their own opinions.

Mr. Goldberg,


Forgive me, but you are both wrong.  The best scripted show on TV right now is Sons of Anarchy. 


If you aren’t watching it yet, you’re going to want to.  Do yourself a favor, catch up on the first two seasons and start watching Season 3 on September 7th.


Those pretty boys on Mad Men don’t hold a candle to SAMCRO.

Oh, I’ve been watching Sons of Anarchy, oh yes. I think you can make the case it is easily one of the most entertaining shows on TV (oh and raunchy! K-Lo would not like it!). And it has many interesting things to say (I’ve actually been noodling a piece for the magazine inspired by it). But I don’t know that a show so eager to appeal to prurient and other lowest common denominator interests can be called the best scripted show on TV. It’s one of my favorites, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Then there’s this:

One word for you, Jonah (and all the other MadMen fans):




You want morally compelling?  Try making a serial killer the protagonist. One that people cheer for.  That is talent.  Finally won its long-deserved Golden Globe (along with the brilliant Michael C. Hall). I am hoping the Emmys finally catch up as well and bypass the dreary ’60s (I lived through it) in favor of a tautly-filimed, well-written and amazingly-cast, deftly-portrayed story that is Dexter’s.


Long-time reader and fan of yours and Mark Steyn’s and WFB and everyone else there.  But MadMen is all hype (how fitting), and like the romanticization of the ’60s, way past its prime.

I think that’s a bit whackadoodle. I like Dexter well enough. And I agree the show is well written in how it keeps viewers on its toes and makes the audience cheer the protagonist. But, um, I don’t think the show is morally compelling, at least not in the way I meant it. Dexter, unlike Walter White, doesn’t illuminate the error of his ways. Dexter is a mass murderer and we are supposed to love him for it. He’s less of a cautionary tale and more of a modern hero, juggling the scheduling demands of his family life, work and his hobby of cutting up people. He’s got issues!

Then, I liked this email at first but ultimately found it disappointing:

The best show on TV is, of course, WonderPets. Better than Glee, better than Mad Men.

Breaking Bad is, as you say, concerned with the cancer of evil.

But Mad Men is, like the show’s writers, a follow on to The Soprano’s: A show about nothing. Don Draper is fascinating, but the show merely trots out his idiosyncracies as needed to fill out plot points. One minute charming and debonair, the next truly amoral, and then, as in the last season’s finale, simultaneously rejecting his family while needing his work family more than ever. Tony Soprano was murderous and charming too. And ultimately, both shows are just a way for good writers, actors, and production designers to avoid answering any of the moral questions they themselves had raised.

I liked the analysis, but kept hoping he would come around to making the affirmative case for Wonder Pets. I watched it for years when my daughter liked it. I used to walk around my house singing “There’s an animal in trouble! There’s an animal in trouble!” all the time. That said, I think the Backyardigans has vastly superior music, but less believable acting.

Oh, and one last point. The up-and-coming challenger to all of these may well be F/X’s “Justified.” More on that later.

Update: Sorry, I had messed up the blockquotes. Fixed now.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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