Since I don't have cable I'm always a day or so behind on some of my favorite shows. And as much as I love to read online commentary, I have to spend an entire day avoiding certain websites so as not to accidentally encounter spoilers.
But today I sought out all the reviews and commentaries. Yesterday I caught up on the "Mad Men" season 5 finale and the "True Blood" season 5 premiere — back to back.
It's rare that one of my favorite shows ends just as another favorite is beginning and what a change of pace. Did anyone else view these in close time-proximity and experience some sort of mental whiplash?
Due to the previous two weeks of "Mad Men," my expectations for a subdued finale were confirmed, though it was anything but boring. It was quite revealing, in fact, and I think the season overall was well defined. The finale provided such an element of closure that one reviewer wrote that it could have been the series finale (that is not to say all loose ends were tied, but there was something deeply comforting and satisfying in the way the episode concluded). "Mad Men" is masterful at subtlety.
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And then there's "True Blood," which is anything but subtle. The fifth season premiere (which I thought was pretty fantastic) is such a change of pace from "Mad Men" that it was almost a little jarring. But isn't it fun to get everything thrown in your face sometimes?
The premiere kicked off with all the adrenaline and intensity fans have come to expect from the supernatural soap opera, picking up exactly where it left off last year — Tara is dying in Sookie's kitchen, vampires Bill and Eric are cleaning up their own mess, Jason Stackhouse (naked) finds Rev. Newland at his door, Lafayette is dealing with the death of his boyfriend Jesus and now potentially his cousin. It's all kinds of drama.
Coming off of a "Mad Men"-high, I found myself contemplating meaning where there likely was none — like, "What does it mean that Jessica and Jason rocked out to 'Cherry Bomb' together during a party-induced game of Rock Band?" — then I had to remind myself that the nuance of "Mad Men" really has no place in "True Blood." It's a good song, one the show got the rights to and that's probably about as far as that goes.
But each show has its place. "Mad Men" certainly appeals to my more analytical, intellectual side; however, "True Blood" has the gore, melodrama, sex and camp that satisfies the horror movie-lover in me.
It may be a strange transition — from 1960s New York City to present day Louisiana, from a well-dressed and perfectly-coiffed ad agency to backwoods vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters and fairies — but certainly not a difficult one to adjust to.