Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mad Men & Those Who Love Them


Just got back from St. Louis where I was visiting my daughter. We watched 6 episodes of Mad Men together. I gotta say I was resistant to watching at all. As a child of the 60s, I have a natural aversion to the Eisenhower era. The repression of true feeling in exchange for surface politeness, the stark gender roles, the cramped, narrow space of ordinary lives. Who wants to revisit that?

But I found myself hooked after reading that the show's creator wanted to write about a time period on the verge of profound change. And I began to see the world of the show as presented in the first season as the "ordinary world" of the Hero's Journey. In order to experience the change, we, the reader/viewer, have to experience what's being changed. Interesting how shaping stories into books shapes the way I look at all story-telling.

Anyway, by the time I finished the first 6 episodes, the nominal hero of the show, intensely handsome advertising Creative Director Don Draper, has heard the distant sound of his call to action. Oh, he's still sleeping with his beatnik mistress, still falling hard for his Jewish client, and still married to his Grace Kelly doll of a wife, but he's also reading Frank O'Hara.


Interesting to see it all unfold, especially in light of the current historic election. Women in the show are definitely second-class citizens given little respect, and the only people of color run the elevators, clean house, or wait tables. Seems like so much has changed. Has it?

Anyone else out there watching this show? What do you think...of the era, the writing, the story-telling?

6 comments:

Lori Wilde said...

Annie,

I'm fascinated by Mad Men as well. I remember how my grandfather had mistresses and he was considered a manly man while my grandmother waited on him hand and foot. My spunky mother refused to follow in her footsteps, thank heavens. It's hard to believe that such a short time ago women and minorities accepted their roles as second class citizens. The sixities happend for a reason. It was time for a huge change. But we still have a long way to go.

Annie Solomon said...

It's just so weird to have The Way Things Were so up in your face. I worked as a copywriter in advertising for years and no one came to work in shirt&tie unless we were going to a client meeting. We were all jeans, sneakers and long hair. But that was after the revolution that Mad Men (hopefully) will document. I can't imagine how hard it must have been for a woman to make her way in that world. No wonder Betsy Draper's hands shake...

lucy said...

As someone who grew up in the 80s and 90s, I was skeptical of the show...but for different reasons. I guess I felt like I had been told my whole life how awful the 50s were, and what a positive improvement the 60s counter-cultural revolution was. But I was skeptical of this message, mainly because it didn’t seem possible for an entire way of life to be just plain wrong. But after watching the show--especially the first couple of episodes of the first season--I too was ready to tear out my hair, put on some tie-dye, and spout peace-not-war slogans. Sure the clothes are nice, but who could live with that kind of stiffness all the time? As far as change is concerned though, it seems to me that in many ways my generation is more like mad men's generation than my parent's hippiedom?

Annie Solomon said...

Well bring it on, baby! Power to the pueblo. Let's burn our bras and--oh, wait. My bra was too expensive to burn...And at this time in my life I really, really, really need the support.

Lori Wilde said...

I'm a feminist too but I'm keeping the bra. It makes me feel perkier.

Annie Solomon said...

Yes I think the bra burning days are over. These days perky is everything...