I'd be the first to admit that I watch and think entirely too much about television.
But that doesn't mean that I understand it.
Case in point: AMC's intention to put Mad Men's Jessica Paré up for the outstanding-lead-actress category in a drama at this year's Emmys.
The channel is obviously convinced that Paré's much-talked-about bordello-grade performance of "Zou Bisou Bisou" at Don's surprise birthday party earlier this season has vaulted her into the first rank of actresses. And the Emmys are so hopelessly, embarrassingly smitten with Mad Men that they'll probably go along with this travesty.
The problem I have with Paré, as with Elisabeth Moss, the other Mad Men actress recently floated in this category, is self-evident because I'm assuming the acting qualities the Academy considers "outstanding" do not extend to amateurish (Paré) or flat-as-a-tortilla (Moss).
There is a second, perhaps less easily surmountable, hurdle facing these two women. "Lead actress" traditionally has been reserved for a woman with a significant role in the series, one typically with more than five lines of dialogue in an hour.
Previous winners include Barbara Bain for Mission: Impossible, Lindsay Wagner for The Bionic Woman, Dana Delany for China Beach, and Glenn Close for Damages.
On one aspect, I hope we can reach a consensus: Mad Men is a drama. Turgid and self-important, perhaps, but a drama nonetheless.
Girlcott! Joe Biden reminded us this week that politicians make particularly astute analysts of pop culture.
During an appearance on Meet the Press, the vice president said: "I think Will & Grace probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody's ever done so far."
Since the context was same-sex unions, I found myself wondering if Will (Eric McCormack) ever got married on the NBC sitcom. I never watched. Not a single episode.
Not because of the show's gay milieu. Because it costarred Debra Messing, one of the most insufferable entertainers of this era. She's the reason that, try as I might, I cannot sit through more than a few minutes of Smash.
Watch, now that I've said that, Messing will be nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.
Crossed wires. Little cult-TV frisson this week when Rebecca Mader turned up on Fringe as a nurse in grave danger of spontaneously combusting. Mader was a late but significant addition to the cast of Lost as Charlotte, a character who has left me pathologically afraid of nosebleeds.
As I watched Mader acting with Anna Torv, I realized the primary difference between Lost and Fringe, two of my favorite existential series: With Lost, if I tried to explain to a nonfan what was going on, my plot summaries grew absurdly disjointed. Yet I always felt I knew exactly what was going on and how we had arrived there.
With Fringe, which I watch just as devotedly, I can orient someone who's never watched, quickly and lucidly. Yet there are many times when I am watching that I feel I have lost the thread entirely.
Invisible Men. The outstanding line of the week came on Glee when Becky (Lauren Potter) complained to Coach Sue (Jane Lynch) that her life was not turning out like the heart-stirring "Homecoming Queen" PSA.
"Oh, Becky," said Sue, "commercials aren't real life. Advertisers are manipulative alcoholics who use images to play on our emotions. Haven't you seen Mad Men?" "No," said Becky. "Neither have I," admitted the coach.