An uncomfortable moment comes halfway through Matthew Weiner’s new Amazon Prime series “The Romanoffs.”
In the episode, titled “Bright and High Circle,” a wealthy couple discusses whether or not to fire a piano teacher who has been anonymously accused of inappropriate conduct with a student. Throughout the story, it’s revealed that the teacher has very little sense of professional boundaries, told one of their sons blowjob jokes and probably bought another student alcohol. Any one of these facts is good enough reason to fire a teacher or, at least, not leave them alone with your kids. And yet the episode concludes with the husband admonishing his children that, “Bearing false witness is the worst crime you can commit. Otherwise, anybody can say anything about anybody. And just saying it ruins their life.”
The monologue feels a little self-serving given that Weiner was accused of sexual harassment by female TV writer Kater Gordon in 2017.
Gordon claimed that Weiner made sexually inappropriate comments while she worked for him, including that she owed it to him to let him see her naked. In response, Weiner told Vanity Fair, “I’m not hedging to say it’s not impossible that I said that, but I really don’t remember saying it.”
It appears that Weiner is using his art to defend himself — or perhaps any man accused of bad behavior. Which is strange, considering that his groundbreaking show “Mad Men,” which won 16 Emmys and five Golden Globes, spared no such punches for his central male character, Don Draper. The dapper adman was depicted as a shallow, soulless opportunist and philanderer who trifled with women’s feelings, while the show deeply empathized with its female characters — most notably Peggy, Betty and Joan — who were desperate to achieve independence during what was an oppressive time for women.