Mad Men

Mad Men premiered on the cable network AMC on July 19th, 2007. The series was created by Matthew Weiner, produced by Lionsgate Television, and the American period drama will release its final season in 2014 and 2015. The last season consists of two parts which contain seven episodes each. The second half of the season premiered on April 5th, 2015, and May 17th, 2015 is when the series finale is scheduled to air. The term “mad men” is explained in the pilot of the series. According to that episode, advertisers who were at work on Madison Avenue used the slang phrase to refer to themselves in the 1950s. Since that point the trivia has been argued and disputed.

The main characters of Mad Men are Vincent Kartheiser as Pete Campbell; Jon Hamm as Don Draper; Rich Sommer as Harry Crane; Elizabeth Moss as Peggy Olson; Kiernan Shipka as Sally Draper; January Jones as Betty Francis; John Slattery as Roger Sterling; Christina Hendricks as Joan Harris; Michael Gladis as Paul Kinsey; Aaron Staton as Ken Cosgrove; Jay R. Ferguson as Stan Rizzo; Robert Morse as Bertram Cooper; Jessica Pare as Megan Draper; and Christopher Stanley as Henry Francis.

The series takes place during the 1960s and is anchored on an ad agency in New York, following the business as it struggled to stay afloat in an increasingly competitive world. The executive, Donald Draper, is at the focus of the stories. Donald had a considerably difficult childhood which shaped him into the man he is in the series, but he would rather not talk about the things he experienced except for with those he is closest to. He is the brilliant genius whose mind is behind the company. Despite being confident Donald actually struggles with a number of insecurities and vices, including smoking, drinking, and taking advantage of women, even though he is actually a family man.

January Jones & Kiernan Shipka as 'Betty & Sally Draper' sharing a smoke in 'Mad Men'
January Jones & Kiernan Shipka as ‘Betty & Sally Draper’ sharing a smoke in ‘Mad Men’

Rotten Tomatoes gives Mad Men an 87% approval rating, Metacritic gives it 77%, gives it 8.8/10 stars, and IMDb gives it 8.7/10 stars. Most of those who viewed Mad Men found themselves enjoying the series. After so many seasons it is also true that it has a formidable fanbase. For the most part the audience for Mad Men has grown throughout the years. Season one began with an average of 0.90 million viewers, then to 1.52 in season two, then 1.80, 2.27, 2.70, and the last couple of seasons have dropped slightly, from 2.49 to 2.01. Reviews called the series introspective and interesting, many commenting on the unique and intriguing spin on a world that existed decades ago. Some viewers admit that it may take a little time to get into the groove of Mad Men, but after several episodes it is a worthwhile experience. Fans say that the acting is beautiful and spot on, and the writing is superb. Critics say that the concept of an ad agency is dull and boring even though a series which is set in the 60s seems like a good idea. Some call it depressing like the characters of Mad Men. There is also some debate about whether the series might be sexist and racist, and there is a lot of alcoholism and smoking seen.

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Why People Love to Watch Hoarding: Buried Alive

Hoarding: Buried Alive is a reality television series that focuses on people who are considered hoarders, otherwise known as people who obsessively collect a large amount of items until it is detrimental to their mental and physical health. Some people on the show are considered ‘junk or garbage’ hoarders, people who have difficulty throwing even trash away and whose homes are so dirty that they are often dangerous to the person’s health. Other people featured on the show are considered ‘item’ hoarders, or people who have amassed an enormous amount of items, often obsessive collections such as dolls. The goal of each episode of the show is to work the hoarder through getting rid of a sizable amount of their collection. Many of the hoarders are facing evictions or other serious consequences, such as losing custody of children, if they do not free up their homes.

Hoarding: Buried Alive is a very popular show. But what is it that draws people to a reality show like Hoarding: Buried Alive? Let’s take a closer look at what makes people love to watch the show.

TLC's 'Hoarding Buried Alive' 'Gourmet Kitchen' episode still
TLC’s ‘Hoarding Buried Alive’ ‘Gourmet Kitchen’ episode still

It makes people want to clean and organize

One of the biggest draws for a show like Hoarding: Buried Alive is that it makes people want to clean and organize their own homes. Seeing homes literally filled with clutter, junk and other objects makes people evaluate their own homes or rooms, and gets them pumped for cleaning. There are even online communities dedicated to showing pictures and details of how watching the show has made them transform their own living spaces.

Some people who watch the show have even credited it with catching their own beginning of a hoarding problem and stopping it in its tracks.

Many people can emphasize with the people on the show

Many of the people with hoarding problems can trace their problems to various emotional and personal issues, such as the death of a loved one, a traumatic experience, or a fractured family. There are many people who can emphasize with these problems and understand how they could make people turn to hoarding.

It can help put things in perspective

Sometimes, people need a little perspective in order to re-evaluate their own lives. Seeing someone with such a serious problem, or serious issues with members of their family, can remind people that their own complaints or problems are not that serious.

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Why Once Upon a Time’s “Queens of Darkness” Is Wasted Potential

The latest story arc in Once Upon a Time was heavily promoted by the show’s creative team since it’s revealed at the end of the mid-winter finale. The “Queens of Darkness” arc has been, in some ways, even more hyped up than the popular “Frozen” story arc on the series due to the fact that it involves three popular Disney villains teaming up. But while fans were initially excited for the promised trifecta of evil queens, many fans have admitted that they are disappointed with what the show has been doing with the Queens of Darkness storyline. Let’s take a closer look at why the Queens of Darkness storyline has ended up being wasted potential.

Rumpelstiltskin is overshadowing them

Bauer Van Straten as the 'Queen of Darkness' in 'Once Upon A Time'
Bauer Van Straten as the ‘Queen of Darkness’ in ‘Once Upon A Time’

Once again, the writers are shoving Rumpelstiltskin into every storyline they possibly can—including one which was presumably meant to focus on three female villains, but is constantly filled with Rumpelstiltskin’s smarminess. Rumpelstiltskin is not just part of the Queens of Darkness’s evil scheme; he has been shown more than once to have power over them, particularly Maleficent, who is supposed to be the strongest of them all. This has created something of a weakened effect, where any villainy the Queens of Darkness may promise is overshadowed by Rumpelstiltskin’s notable power over them.

Ursula’s backstory was interesting, but unfulfilling

'Ursula' kept 'Belle' as captive at one point.
‘Ursula’ kept ‘Belle’ as captive at one point.

The backstory that the writers gave Ursula was interesting and emotional, despite the fact that they essential gave Ursula a background that would have been more fitting for Ariel. Although Ursula’s backstory was sad, it was ultimately unfulfilling because every bit of it was told in a single episode—and then completely resolved in that same exact episode. There was no time for fans to really care about Ursula’s character, or any character development, or her motivations for joining up with Cruella and Maleficent, when everything was pushed through and resolved so quickly.

Too much screen time is focused on one particular ‘queen of darkness’

There is no doubt that Maleficent’s history with Snow and Charming, her desire for revenge, and the fate of her baby are very interesting, compelling and for the most part, well-written aspects of the Queens of Darkness arc. However, the overwhelming focus on Maleficent has made many fans wonder why the writers bothered with the Queens of Darkness angle at all—why not simply have Maleficent be the only “queen” working with Rumplestiltskin?

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What To Know About iZombie Before You Watch It

The CW ‘s foray into the world of zombies might seem a little too late, but iZombie is proving to be fairly popular for the network so far. iZombie, which is based on a comic book series by the same name, focuses on a young medical student named Liv who is turned into a zombie after an outbreak on a party boat; if she consumes regular human brains, however, she will stay “fresh” and not turn into a rotting, mindless corpse. She takes a job at a police morgue in order to get a supply of brains, but finds that when she eats the brains of victims, she gets visions of their murders in addition to absorbing some of their habits—a side effect which she uses to help the police solve crimes.

If you still aren’t sold on the show—or you’re planning to watch but want to know more about it—consider the following vital facts to know about iZombie before you watch.

The show, unlike the comic book, will not have an expanded monster universe

In the original comic book, zombies aren’t the only monsters or supernatural creatures in the world. Ghosts and werewolves, to name a few, figure among the most prominent supernatural characters in the comic book series. The show’s writers, however, have confirmed that they have no plans for an ‘expanded monster universe’ like the comic book.

The main character had a much different job in the comics

'Liv' cannot have sex because her Zombie virus will spread
‘Liv’ cannot have sex because her Zombie virus will spread

In the CW show, Liv works as a police medical examiner—giving her fairly easy and realistic access to a steady supply of human brains. Her job as a police medical examiner also gives her a direct line to police cases, which helps with the show’s decision to make iZombie more of a “case-of-the-week procedural” drama.

In the original comic, however, Liv—or Gwen—takes a job as a grave digger. This makes her getting a regular supply of human brains more of a stretch, since a gravedigger will not have the same type of access to human bodies as someone who simply digs graves. And the problems that Gwen faces in the comic book are significantly different than Liv in the television series—namely, Gwen deals with other supernatural creatures attacking her or the town, the threat of apocalyptic battles, and escalating threats to her safety and that of her family.

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What Didn’t Work in Tyrant’s Premiere Season

Although Tyrant has been renewed for a second season, the first season of the show was not all that well received critically or by regular audiences. The show was very hyped up before its first season, although the production was dampened due to a real life conflict in Israel, where the show was filming, which caused the production to move to Turkey. The show’s production problems overshadowed the show itself before it premiered; however, after the show began airing, it never quite lived up to the expectations of TV critics of audiences. Let’s take a closer look at what just didn’t work in the first season of Tyrant.

The show can’t decide what it wants to be

One of the key problems with Tyrant’s first season is that it couldn’t decide what kind of show it wanted to be. The first episodes of the series were more like an over the top soap opera that didn’t take itself seriously, while touching on a lot of “current” issues in a glossy, vapid way. However, halfway through the first season, the show suddenly wanted to be more serious, and dropped the vapid soap opera theatrics for a lot of political drama–talking, backdoor deals, and yet more talking.

Are we supposed to like Barry?

The “protagonist” of the show, Barry, has a pretty ridiculous notion of what he wants to do: Barry, knowing that his home country is now under the control of his out of control and tyrannical brother Jamal, decides to return and plot a coup so that he can take over and turn things around.

Adam Rayner as 'Barry Al-Fayeed' in 'Tyrant'
Adam Rayner as ‘Barry Al-Fayeed’ in ‘Tyrant’

Barry has no political experience whatsoever, much less any experiencing actually governing a country. He has no experience making backdoor deals, secret plots, or staging coups. His wife frequently points this out to him, yet she is frequently bested or “shown” by Barry that he might be able to get away with this after all; even though his experience, behavior and actions say otherwise.

This leads to another central problem in the show: is the audience supposed to like Barry? Or believe that his plan might work? The show implies multiple times that we’re supposed to root for Barry’s plan, yet anyone—including his wife in the show—can see that it just won’t work. And in the end, it doesn’t, which surprised no one who watched more than one episode of the show.

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Three Changes The Hunger Games Films Shouldn’t Have Made

The Hunger Games film series have been both financially and, for the most part, critically successful adaptations of the original book trilogy by Suzanne Collins. As with any book to film adaptation, however, the Hunger Games movies have made many changes to the original book material. These changes have ranged from significant differences to minor changes; some of these changes have worked to the film’s benefit, while others have taken away something from the original books that would have made a good impact on film. The following are three deviations from the original source material that the filmmakers should have reconsidered making.

The age of Katniss and most of the other tributes

In the original novel, anyone between the ages of 12 and 18 is eligible to be chosen as a tribute. The Hunger Games are, after all, a battle to the death between children. In the book, Katniss and Peeta are only 16 years old when they are chosen.

However, Jennifer Lawrence was 22 years old when she starred in the original film; Josh Hutcherson was 20. The only real young actors in the first film were the very young characters, such as Rue. Lawrence, Hutcherson and the ‘teenager tributes’ look noticeably older than actual 16 year olds, which took away from a lot of the impact of the original series.

Removing a lot of the political material

Jennifer Lawrence in 'The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2'
Jennifer Lawrence in ‘The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2’

The plot of the Hunger Games has a lot of political material that was cut for the film adaptations. Little details, such as the mockingjay being a potential political symbol by the events of the first film as well as the concept of Avoxes being punished rebels and traitors, were removed from the adaptations. This makes President Snow’s threats in the second film seem rather sudden—why is he so worried about the effect Katniss and Peeta’s actions will have? Removing the seeds of political unrest made the rebellion seem too sudden.

Taking away key aspects of Katniss’ personality

The film adaptations often make Katniss too much of an “awkward every girl” for audiences to project themselves on. In the books, Katniss can be downright unpleasant, even before she has undergone the trauma of the Hunger Games. For example, she is very resistant to the makeovers given by the Capitol in the books because she hates an emphasis on appearances. In the film, however, she is simply not used to being in the limelight.


The Lizzie Borden Chronicles Insights

Lizzie Borden: The Fall River Chronicles often referred to as The Lizzie Borden Chronicles or as the Lizzie Borden movie, is a Lifetime fictionalized television miniseries that focuses around the events and people surrounding Lizzie Borden’s life after her controversial acquittal of the double murder of her father and stepmother in 1892.

Lizzie Borden premiered in January and opened to 4.4 million total viewers. It ranks as Lifetime’s second-most-watched movie telecast among women, second only to Flowers in the Attic. The series was produced by Sony Pictures Television. Judith Verno and Christina Ricci serve as executive producers for the show. Greg Small, Rich Blaney, Barbara Nance, Jason Grote and David Simkins serve as writes for the show, while Covert Affairs director Stephen Kay will act as show runner for the first two episodes of the television series.

In this fictional retelling—a sequel to the movie—Lizzie Borden is living her life with this newfound celebrity status, her name on the mouths and lips of everyone across the country. However, when personal friends and acquaintances of Lizzie begin dying under strange and brutal circumstances—including her half-brother and the head of the criminal underworld—the legendary Pinkerton detective Charlie Siringo, played by Cole Hauser from Good Will Hunting, takes the case, determined to bring justice to Borden once and for all.

Christina Ricci reprises her role as Lizzie Borden, this mini-series drawing from the original 2014 made-for-television movie version, Lizzie Borden Took an Ax, which portrays a more realistic account of the Borden murder trial, and the events leading up to her being charged and later acquitted. Although fictional, the television movie does maintain some accuracy in its telling.

Christina Ricci talks about her role in 'The Lizzie Borden Chronicles'
Christina Ricci talks about her role in ‘The Lizzie Borden Chronicles’

Historically speaking, of course, Lizzie Borden was acquitted of all charges because her lawyer convinced the jury that it was impossible for a woman to commit so terrible a crime. The gruesome, heinous act belonged to the realm of evil men, and women were not allowed or welcomed. After her acquittal, Lizzie stayed in Fall River, Massachusetts, mostly keeping to herself, not that she had a choice. She lived a mostly quiet life, although she never lived down her reputation, exacerbated by her probable shoplifting issues. The television series veers far from this course, instead taking artistic liberties in depicting a very probable universe in which Lizzie Borden murdered again.

Instead of historical fiction, Lizzie Borden serves more as a historical fantasy series, which focuses on storytelling and character motivation, as opposed to the cold, hard facts. Lifetime has a penchant for intense stories, and the tale of Lizzie Borden in perhaps one of the most intense stories, especially with delightfully gleeful Christina Ricci leading the show.

The Lizzie Borden Chronicles has been praised for its skillful depiction of an intelligent woman with a dark secret to hide. While it’s a far cry from the truth, the story is delivered with all the strength the truth has to offer, adding its own flair and artistic style.

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Things You Didn’t Know About Ax Men

Ax Men is an American reality television series that originally premiered on the History channel in March of 2008. The show follows the real-life work of logging crews who work in the second-growth forests of Northwestern Oregon, Washington and Montana, in addition to the rivers of Louisiana and Florida.

Like other shows in this genre, Ax Men details and showcases the real life struggles of loggers, highlighting the dangers they must face in their professional line of work. The series is considered a part of a new trend of reality television series, a “real men in danger” sort of programming that has its roots in television shows such as The Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers.

Katelyn Sims in 'Axe Men'
Katelyn Sims in ‘Axe Men’

The show’s name is an homage to the comic book series, X-Men, which tells the intricate and interweaving stories of mutants and the struggles they must deal with in a a society that isn’t sure what to do with them.

Since its debut in 2008, Ax Men has spawned 8 seasons, each of which features a set of logging companies, alternating between them as they progress through their work day. In following seasons, new logging companies are introduced, though logging companies from previous seasons don’t just stop appearing on the show. After all, Ax Men is a show that takes a look into the life of these men, and having an old favorite return is always encouraging to audiences. Understanding that their struggles are real serves as a reminder to audiences that these men aren’t just actors playing a role on a television series.

Like other shows that delve into the professional lives of its cast, Ax Men teaches its audiences the terminology that is used in that particular world.

The more recent seasons of Ax Men have been strongly criticized for failing to remain true to their original premise. Instead, Ax Men seems to have followed the trend of reality television series, becoming more predictable and less authentic in its showcasing of danger. Most notably, critics have noticed that there’s always a camera where an accident occurs, followed by a very common series of events. During these events, the victim has his name called out several times before finally responding. Newer episodes follow this equation almost precisely.

Similarly, the show has received complaints from loggers, or those who live in logging country. They have called the show a disservice to the job they love, and call out the show’s cast as not fit for the world of logging. Similarly, the show has been criticized for the glorification of the destruction of the environment. Although what loggers do may be necessary, they follow very strict rules and regulations as not to destroy or damage the environment unnecessarily. The television series, however, isn’t as crystal clear about this, oftentimes leading viewers to believe that the destruction of nature is an acceptable loss for the comfort of living a life of luxury.

Despite these harsh criticisms from critics and audiences alike, however, the series does offer a candid look into the lives of the men and women who support the nation’s backbone with their arduous work. Logging is a necessary part of the American way of life, providing the wood to make new houses and furniture, aspects of life that are often taken for granted. Although the life of a logger is oftentimes stereotyped, Ax Men provides an honest look at the lives of those who call themselves loggers, offering to end the unsupported ideas that loggers are simple, mindless red-necks wanting to destroy the environment. These are men who are happy to come to work every day and perform a duty that many would balk at were it theirs.

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Why You Should Be Watching In An Instant

ABC’s In An Instant premiered in March of 2015 to solid ratings and reviews. The show focuses on traumatic situations that changed people’s lives “in an instant.” The situations on the show include grizzly bear attacks, plane crashes, bridge collapses, and other instances where everything changes in a moment. The show includes dramatizations of what happened along with actual interviews with the people involved—from the victims of the situations to law enforcement and other individuals.

If you aren’t yet watching the show, you definitely should be. Why? The following are three reasons why you should be tuning in on Saturdays to catch In An Instant.

The show isn’t “one size fits all”

Some programs about real life situations—such as attempted murders—can feel a little “one size fits all” or “one note” sometimes. In An Instant, however, features a wide variety of situations—animal attacks, car crashes, plane crashes, and more. The show’s varied situations help keep it fresh and interesting from episode to episode.

It features helpful advice

Most people don’t think that they will ever be involved in a dangerous situation, such as an animal attack or a plane crash—until they’re in the middle of it! The show talks about the key decisions that the people make which ended up saving their lives, and offers advice on what to do if you are in that situation. It never hurts to be prepared and ultimately this helpful advice may just come in handy for you someday.

It lets you think: what would I do?

ABC's 'In an Instant' promo clip
ABC’s ‘In an Instant’ promo clip

One of the reasons that human beings love hearing about these life changing instances is because it allows us to ask: “What would I do?” We love to imagine the decisions we might make in these situations, which helps us connect to the people who went through them. In An Instant is the perfect opportunity to come face to face with these real life dangers and wonder—would I have made the right decisions? Would I have made it out of there alive?

It’s dramatic and emotional

The show is actually 2 hours long, and many viewers have described the format (dramatizations combined with actual interviews) as being like watching a survival film. In An Instant is also surprisingly emotional, particularly because of the interviews in which people recount these situations which made them face death, survive and be changed forever because of it.

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Why Selma Was Not Allowed to Use Any Actual MLK Quotes

The 2014 drama Selma was based on the famous 1960s Selma marches headed by Martin Luther King Jr. The film received mostly positive reviews, although the film was considered to have underperformed at the box office. Despite only a modest box office success, however, many critics noted that the film was an interesting, humanizing look at Martin Luther King Jr and the famous Selma marches, as well as the events that inspired them.

Although the film was based on real events, and included real events and real people in its story, there was one aspect of the film which would not be exactly true to life: Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches. The King estate is the legal holder of the license to these speeches, and the King estate—which consists of King’s three surviving children—would not allow the filmmakers to use the authentic speeches in Selma.

David Oyelowo in 'Selma' as 'Martin Luther King Jr.'
David Oyelowo in ‘Selma’ as ‘Martin Luther King Jr.’

The reason for this is monetary. The King estate actually licensed the speeches to DreamWorks and Warner Brothers in 2009, with the intention of these studios created a biographical film about Martin Luther King Jr. Steven Spielberg is slated to direct this biopic, although as of 2015, it has not cast any actors or gone any further in production.

And because the King estate licensed the speeches to these studios, it would not license the speeches to the studio producing Selma. What this ultimately meant for the Selma writers is that they were not legally allowed to use the authentic, exact speeches given by Martin Luther King Jr., at any point in the film.

Fortunately, there was a legal—if tricky—way around the situation. While the writers could not use the exact same speech, they could alter the real Martin Luther King Jr. speeches just enough for them to be legally used. In some cases, this was as easy as changing a few words or verbs to make the speech distinct enough from the licensed, real version. In other cases, it meant rewording things, adding new material or excising material in order to satisfy the legal team for the King estate. However, for the most part, only small changes were necessary. For example: in real life, King asked this question at the funeral of Jimmie Lee Jackson: “Who killed him?” In the film, he asks: “Who murdered Jimmie Lee Jackson?” The meaning is the same, even if the words were altered.


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