Saturday, November 17, 2007

Mad Men

Recently my friend Clark recommended a new show called "Mad Men". Its all about the men (and the elevator boys and the little wives at home) of Madison Avenue in the 1960's. Thanks to the miracle of Eric's new slingbox, we were able to take his suggestion all the way around the world.

I was immediately impressed by the detail given to the costume and set design and then sucked in by the storytelling. As I did a little research for this post, I discovered that Matthew Weiner, who was a writer for The Soprano's, wrote and directed this show. It definitely has the same feeling the Soprano's did in that none of the characters are redeemable.

Everyone is flawed and adrift in a sea of self obsessions and rationalizations. Mad Men does not gloss over the misogynism, racism and homophobia of the day. It depicts these as ordinary everyday occurrences. And, oh boy, do these folks smoke! People are chain smoking at every conceivable moment. (Not just after meals or sex, but during breakfast, lunch, dinner, yardwork, paperwork, housework, and pregnancy). And they drink too. Loads. Every staff member keeps a bottle in their desk drawer, and they aren't shy about taking a pull in the middle of the day.

It is often tempting to romanticize the past and this period more than any other has the happy patina of forgetfulness. The war had ended and people were making money and babies and Kennedy hadn't been shot yet. It was a great time to be a (straight)white man, but of course, there were lots of people who weren't.

I watch this show and feel impressed by how put together everyone looks. Every woman has her hair expertly coiffed and perfect manicures and lipstick even if she's just headed to the grocery store. And the men look pretty slick too, with their pomaded hair and grey suits, crisp white shirts and skinny ties. And they've got nice manners and clean houses and cute kids, but things don't look so hot on the horizon.

Apparently AMC has renewed this show for next year, so once this writer's strike gets sorted out, I'm looking forward to much more from this show.

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