‘Mad Men,’ Brian Williams and tsoris


NBC’s Brian Williams is joining the chorus of "Mad Men" fans who scour each episode for historical inaccuracies and inconsistencies. In a recent blog post he goes to town on the season premiere which aired Sunday night.

Frankly, I was surprised that Williams had nothing to say about the quirk that had me and my wife pausing and rewingding a few times: Harry Crane’s use of the word "tsoris" (Yiddish for trouble). As in… "I had a lot of tsoris with Lucy and Desi."

Is Harry Crane a Yid? Even if he is, would a Jew struggling to make it in a WASPy firm be throwing around a word like "tsoris"? Would Joan, the red-headed secretary, know what it meant?

Now why would I expect Williams to have anything to say on the matter?

Because just three years ago he was "rocked" by the sudden appearance of the word on "The Sopranos." Here’s what he told the Forward:

“What was striking about it,” Williams said later, in an interview with The Shmooze, “was how incredibly white-bread the cigarette-smoking guy was.”

The dapper newsman proved to have a better ear for mamaloshn than fellow blogger — and onetime Forward hand — Jeffrey Goldberg, who, in a subsequent post, wrote, “How is it that a guy named Williams heard tsoris and one named Goldberg didn’t?”

So is tsoris in a different league than, say, chutzpah?

“That’s pretty entry level,” Williams said. “This goes with ponim, mishpokhe, shpilkes and keynehoreh. This is for the pros. This is Triple-A ball.”

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