Monday, June 23, 2008

Mad Men

Anyone else watching this right now? Mad men is being shown in reruns on two different channels -- with lots of hype informing (or reminding) us of how much the critical world loves this show. Golden Globes, etc, etc. For those that don't know it's about the men in the New York advertising world in the 50's - when manipulation, smoke and mirrors and diversion started to replace coupons as advertising code. Also in a starring role is the chain smoking, misogyny, functional alcoholism, racism and alpha male attitude that was apparently inherent.

This show should suck. These characters are hateful! The men are asses - the women are barely recognizable from the other side of women's lib - and advertising? Aren't we pissed enough about how we've been manipulated without seeing how it all began?

The show is good. Really really good. I love this show. The season opener created a hero in the first half hour and then slowly, slowly revealed him for the anti-hero he actually is. Every single person, every single relationship is fraught with drama. Real drama. Emotional and physical drama - without all that crazy backbending work we have to do while watching things like Lost. And it's fresh - really fresh - unlike House who feels a bit like an old shoe at this point.

The stakes - especially for the women - feel so high. And we care - we care about the misogynist, cheating, war hero. We care about Peggy - the new girl. We care about the older secretary - who has clearly become "the town pump." We really care about the war hero's wife and stress fractures showing up all over her life.

Historically, it's really cool. Lots of winks and nods to the things that have been banished from our world - kids without seat belts, chain smoking at lunch, while pregnant, while drinking scotch. The clothes that are so gorgeous and so uncomfortable. Fedoras and pearls. But the best thing about the time period is that the mores and values of that time allow for all this drama - all these high stakes. We believe that Peggy has one chance to hook a Jr. executive so she can get out into the country to raise her kids. We believe that Draper's been conditioned to provide "things" not "love."

It's good tv. You should watch it.


Amy Ruttan said...

Where we would we find this show? It sounds intriguing.

And don't even get me started on House.

I love Hugh Laurie long, long, long before House. We're talking Blackadder days, Fry and Laurie days, the days when comedy was his schtick.

I was a strange 16 year old. LOL! I didn't have a crush on Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise (as was the norm), it was all about Hugh Laurie and Patrick Stewart. LOL!

Maureen McGowan said...

Amy, It's showing on CTV on Sunday nights right now. They're about 4 episodes in. It's not too late to start watching. The second season premieres on AMC soon, I think. AMC, if you get it, might be showing the first season again in advance of that.

RE the 1950's attitudes... It's actually the 60's not the 50's... (or at least 1960... that's when Nixon first ran for President, so it's either supposed to be 1960 or 1968.) Sadly, when I first started working in the early 80's as a coop student... some of the male attitudes toward women in the workplace had not yet changed that much. Nor had the chain smoking... I never saw anyone drink at work... but boozy lunches were still pretty common.
I guess it was the 70's when women started entering previously male dominated professions in big numbers, but just because they got hired, didn't mean attitudes had changed much. Or that men liked it. Or saw anything wrong with cracking jokes about the women and making them feel like shit. I was just reading an article about Barbara Walter's new autobiography (which I now want to read) and it's appalling the way she was treated in the 1970's.
I don't think that much changed in the work place until the late 80's and the 90's with all the sexual harassment lawsuits. Whats her name who spoke out against that US Supreme court nominee was a real hero for women. I can't believe I can't think of her name. Anita...

BUT I'm totally off subject. The show is amazing. Did you watch last night's yet, Molly? Delicious.

Amy Ruttan said...

Oh awesome thanks!!

I am so out of the loop concerning TV ... unless you count Treehouse and the psychotic In the Night Garden.

Anonymous said...

Must watch this show... can't believe I missed it twice.

Molly O'Keefe said...

Maureen I love that you know US history better than I do - thanks for keeping us factual. I haven't seen the new one because I'm watching the BRavo wednesday night reruns -- but I look forward to some "delicious."

A Barbara Walters Bio would be really interesting - considering she did what she did when she did it -- I can't imagine how badly she was treated some days.

In the Night Garden is TOTALLY psychotic!!!! Why does everything fart? Luckily, Mick's over it because he was starting to talk in total nonsense. Weird freaking show.

Anonymous said...

I love this show - the characters are depressing but the writing and the cast are both awesome. I can't wait for the new season to start - in July, I think.

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