TV chat: On ‘Mad Men’ jokes, ‘Golden Boy’ survival

John Slattery (left) as Roger Sterling and Jon Hamm as Don Draper in “Mad Men.’’
Frank Ockenfels/AMC
John Slattery (left) as Roger Sterling and Jon Hamm as Don Draper in “Mad Men.’’

Globe TV critic Matthew Gilbert chatted with readers last Thursday on Here are excerpts.

Q. I love “Mad Men,” but you almost need a character outline with you to understand the motivations and reactions. And every single thing means something. The rape jokes, what was that?

A. Yes, the show has that literary quality that invites you to analyze it. But I do think you can enjoy “Mad Men” if you just watch and take it in. And I’m not sure there are right and wrong readings. To me, Betty’s rape jokes, for example, were illustrative of her strange personality, as well as a reminder of how times have changed in terms of sensitivity to language and sexual inappropriateness. I don’t think there was a big hidden secret there. But you may want to read Betty’s comments in a different way.


Q. Re: Betty and the “joke” — I wonder if she was molested as a child since they alluded to something happening with her father.

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A. Interesting thought. Perhaps she thinks that’s the kind of talk men want to hear, because her father was inappropriate with her; which is why she was teasing Henry with it.

Q. I’m sick of Roger on “Mad Men.”

A. WHAT? Leave this chat. Now. Go on. No, stay. I respect you for being honest, even if you are wrong. I loved the Roger stuff in the premiere. All of it, especially the therapy scenes. A tour de force by John Slattery. Roger provides a great contrast to Don. Their upbringings were so opposite.

Q. Is it safe to say that reality shows, even the “good” ones, are mostly staged?


A. Yes, it’s amazing just how staged and contrived they ALL are, and just how few viewers really understand that. Even when they’re not explicitly staged, the cast members are still coached and manipulated. It’s all artificial. I’m more or less fine with that, but I wish more viewers knew it.

Q. Any idea when we can expect “Boardwalk Empire” back on the air?

A. That’s generally an early fall show, and I can’t imagine HBO changing that. Patricia Arquette, Ron Livingston, and Jeffrey Wright have joined the cast, by the way.

Q. Will “Golden Boy” survive? My husband and I joke that everything he likes is doomed — “Lie to Me,” “Chicago Code,” “Boss,” “Gary Unmarried.”

A. It’s doing OK in the ratings. But I’m not optimistic about renewal, just because CBS has so many successful series going right now. For NBC, renewing “Golden Boy” would be a no-brainer. “Golden Boy” and “Vegas” will probably be the first dramas to go if CBS needs to make room for new shows.


Q. Any news on a “Parks and Recreation” renewal? I cannot have a world with no more Leslie Knope.

A. I really think NBC will hold onto the show. And that’s partly because it will be without two of its other signature comedies, “The Office” and (sniff, sob) “30 Rock.” “The New Normal” and “1600 Penn,” however, better watch out.

Q. Do you know when “Luther” is returning?

A. I haven’t heard a word. I know it has been filmed. And it will air in England before it shows up here on BBC America.

Q. How is “Nurse Jackie”?

A. It’s still really good, which is a relief because there’s a new showrunner this season. Clyde Phillips, who did “Dexter” for a while, has taken over the series. Still an unvarnished look at both addiction and recovery.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Matthew