Saturday, April 14, 2012

Blogging A to Z: Mad Men

Another alliteration day: Mad Men

Mad Men is worth watching for the beautiful styling and acute attention to period detail, but it's also a darn good show. I love that while the characters embody a glamorous lifestyle, the show does not flinch from realties that are far from glamorous. Women are clearly belittled, while at the same time fetishized through affairs. Great clothes or not, being a woman corporate America in the '60s must have sucked.

The man behind the suit, Don Draper, really runs the show. He's a dapper marketing genius, and also a bit of an a-hole. He does what he wants because he can, and it's a testament to the writers and actors that we still sympathize with Don at all. He's not really Don - he's Dick Whitman, man transformed who runs from his own dark secrets.

I love the supporting cast of Mad Men; while January Jones disappointed pretty heavily in last summer's X- Men: First Class as a character completely devoid of any personality, she shines as Don's wife Betty. She's fairly miserable, kind of a brat, but again, we sympathise because she's stuck in the suburbs all day while her husband stays out late with other women. This goes unspoken for a long time but the subtle revealings of Betty's knowledge about Don's life are heartbreaking.

Much of the heart of Mad Men comes from Peggy's storyline. She's a plain girl trying to angle her way to success, and she's one of the most relateable characters. She's not beautiful or sexy, and she's naive, but not for long. As she grows thicker skin, so do we, and we see her less as a victim and more as someone who can take control, in small bites, of her fate. This mirrors what women were actually going through at that time, and it's a reminder to us that it wasn't so long ago that the workplace was that sexually discriminatory.

Why You Should Watch: It wins Emmy awards for a reason. Every actor pulls their weight, and it's a fascinating look at culture, specifically the marketing/media empire that shaped where we are today.

Factoid: Producer Matthew Weiner removed a song because it would not have been released until a few months later than timeline in the episode. His attention to detail is that aware.

15 comments:

  1. My mother-in-law is planning a Mad Men themed costume party because she loves this show so much.

    I don't much care for January Jones but Elisabeth Moss is awesome.

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  2. I watched Season 1, but by the end I felt like it was really slow. My problem is that I usually watch TV right before bed, so if it isn't relatively fast-paced I tend to, y'know, fall asleep. :) But I DID think it was so well made... yeah, I should give it another chance.

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  3. This is such a great review of the show. Speaking as a major fan of MAD MEN, I think you've nailed on the head the very essence of the show and its characters. I love that they simultaneously make us love and hate the era and the people they've plunked in that era. Such a great show :)

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  4. I've heard wonderful things about this show but haven't seen it yet. It seems I'm on my computer much more than watching TV these days. How's your novel coming along? I'm in your city right now, at the Romantic Times convention, and learning a lot. Good luck on the challenge.

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  5. Oh yeah. This is a really good show. I don't watch a lot of TV so I actually have DVDs of the previous seasons (still need to watch them). I actually started watching it one night and got hooked. Then hubster saw me watching, and he started watching, and now he's hooked, too. He's better at keeping up with it--me, not so much because TV is not high on my priority list. I gotta make time for reading and writing. Hubs is not a writer, so he spends his free time watching TV shows. :)

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  6. I have not seen this show yet, but people keep telling me I should watch it. After your post I am very intrigued. I think I might have to find that first season.

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  7. Those costumes are gorgeous, aren't they? I tried this show after it was recommended so many times, but forewarned is not always forearmed, and I spent 20 minutes cringing at the way the women were treated and finally had to turn it off. :( Gender discrimination isn't over for everyone. It's still real life for millions of women everywhere.

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  8. A friend of mine has the box set or something, I watched an episode but I got bored...but that happens with most TV shows.

    I did love the costumes though!

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  9. I haven't seen this show but everyone raves about it! It sounds like it's great. Maybe someday I'll be able to watch some reruns. I am that person who needs to watch a show from the beginning.

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  10. I haven't seen this show but everyone raves about it! It sounds like it's great. Maybe someday I'll be able to watch some reruns. I am that person who needs to watch a show from the beginning.

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  11. Yet another show that everyone watches, but I don't. I'm the person who watches the shows that get good press, but nobody watches. And then they get cancelled. And bad reality TV. I watch that too.

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  12. Hello, Fellow Challenger, from #399 - aka Rockin'Chair Reflections! That's another show I'm going to have to get the DVD to watch, because there are just too many others scheduled! Great review.

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  13. I've never seen Mad Men, but it sounds like an interesting show. And the costumes rock! Just stopping by on the challenge. :)

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  14. I've heard a lot about this show but never seen it. I'll have to give it a try. Although I'm always wary of anything addictive that takes time away from my writing. :)

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  15. Only seen the first two episodes so far, but I enjoyed it for the style and attitudes of the time period. Great post.

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