“The Chrysanthemum and the Sword”
August 22nd, 2010
Ted, the Don Draper-equivalent over at rival agency CGC, is not in Don Draper’s league: he is neither visionary nor genius, and yet by virtue of his insistence that he is a competitor he has been elevated to Don’s level. It’s the ultimate example of self-definition, of putting something out there (in this case, to the New York Times) and then turning it into reality. It doesn’t matter that Jai Alai went with another agency because its owner is delusional, or that Clearasil was a conflict rather than business lost: as it would appear to the outside world, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce lost two accounts and CGC (under Ted’s leadership) gained both of them.
“The Chrysanthemum and the Sword” is filled with various examples of situations where appearance becomes reality, to the point where it even becomes a meta-narrative when the series’ positioning of Betty as a child-like figure becomes rendered in three-dimensions. It’s not the most pleasant or subtle of episodes, but it ends up making some fairly interesting observations regarding Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce as an agency, as well as the series’ general approach to simulating the past.
December 15th, 2008
For those of you who don’t know, I am from Canada. So is Cobie Smulders, who plays Robin Cherbotsky, who is also from Canada. This has made us the butt of many jokes in the span of How I Met Your Mother’s four seasons. The show has never really strived for accuracy, of course, but its skewering has been quite adept: I had recent HIMYM addict Angie Han send me a YouTube link the other night that she viewed as proof that the 80s hadn’t, in fact, come to Canada until 1993, which I won’t share here because it was actually quite damning for the state of popular music in the mid to late 90s in Canada.
If they had created an image of Canada in the past though, the final episode of HIMYM before its Christmas break proved that they are willing to go one step further. In an episode that would make Baudrillard proud (and by proud, I mean roll over in his grave while proud that he was right all along), Marshall invites a homesick Robin to “Little Minnesota” (aka the Walleye Saloon) a version of Marshall’s home state (which offers similar weather patterns to Canada) where everyone knows your name, everyone laments the Vikings’ loss in the 1999 NFC Championship, and where they believe that Canadians are afraid of the dark.
What followed was an episode that, despite the episode’s other storyline being a simulation of a mediocre sitcom, brought new life to the show’s version of Canada: sure, it’s not the truth, but it’s a well constructed enough exaggeration that I believe the show deserves credit for its-AHHH WHAT HAPPENED TO THE LIGHTS?!