Mad Mad Mad Mad Men
All is forgiven!
I have received my parents’ RSVP, and not only are they coming to the wedding (that’s a relief, since they’re doing the flowers!) but there are ADORABLE stickers all over the response card, so I suppose we shall let them eat fish instead of Brussels sprouts, and probably even some cake.
I also had the world’s most wonderful bachelorette party this weekend, but I’ll blog about that later this week; this is just a short interlude to tell you about my favorite summer show, as I’ve been promising to. And surprise, it’s not So You Think You Can Dance! — although that was my most addictive summer show.
No, I’m talking about the ridiculously brilliant Mad Men, Thursdays on AMC, which is about the guys who worked in advertising on Madison Avenue in 1960 and the women who work for them, sleep with them, are married to them, etc.
The amazing thing about Mad Men is that it’s set only about forty-five years ago, and yet it is seriously often like watching a bunch of aliens. I mean, it’s ridiculously well-acted, so you can still empathize with every single character — but in some ways they behave so differently from us that it’s just mind-boggling to think that my parents were already alive when all this was going on. Like, these could be my grandparents talking or acting like this!
For starters, everybody smokes and drinks constantly, including the pregnant women (ack! alarming to watch!). And there are all these small details the viewer just reacts to instinctively — like the little girl playing with a plastic dry cleaning bag over her head. Her mom pays no attention, while over here I’m shrieking “SUFFOCATION HAZARD! SUFFOCATION HAZARD!” Who knew that was such an ingrained response? Nice work, warning labels!
Then there’s one scene at a party where a bunch of kids are running around, and one of them knocks into a table. An adult grabs the kid and slaps him, saying: “You have to be more careful!” Then another adult comes up asking what happened, and the first guy says: “Your kid just knocked over a glass of water.” !!!! Hitting other people’s kids! This was EVER okay?!!
And there is no PC filter at all. The racism, anti-Semitism, and sexism is so casual and pervasive, it’s like a punch in the stomach every time they talk. In a recent episode, one of the female secretaries said something smart in a focus meeting, and afterwards one of the senior ad men commented on it, saying: “It was interesting…like watching a dog play the piano.” !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YE GODS!
I am so so so so so so SO glad that I live now and not then. If you have any doubt that we live in a better world nowadays, try watching this show! Plus it’s also darkly funny, brilliantly written, completely fascinating, and perfectly cast. I don’t know what to think about the main guy, Don, who’s cheating on his wife and as sexist as the rest of them, but also seems to really love her, even while he’s drawn to yet a third woman, and to have a dark, empty side to him, like he feels hollow but he doesn’t know why. It’s eerily compelling.
Plus, the show stars Vincent Kartheiser, who alert readers might remember was Angel’s troubled son on Angel! He’s pretty troubled and creepy here, too, in a desperate, ambitious, strange way. It’s like he’s trying too hard to fit in, but he’s never really happy — I’m not sure any of them are ever really happy.
And it makes you wonder how people will look back on us in forty years, and what they’ll find astonishing or appalling that we think is normal. I think tanning might look as unhealthy, dangerous, and short-sighted to people of the future as smoking looks to us (which would be nice for me, the palest human being on the planet). I hope homophobic remarks will inspire the same horrified response (in everyone) that we currently have to racism or sexism. And I think (I hope) there will be even more of a shift toward environmental protection…maybe people in the future will be like: “wow, can you believe those cars ran on gas? Was there really a time when cars didn’t run on potatoes?” Or something like that.
Anyway, it’s an amazing show, and that’s my plug for this week! Coming soon: the new fall shows I’m most excited about. WOO HOO!
Quote of the Day:
Don’s mistress: “Don’s in advertising.”
Annoying Hippie Guy: “Perpetuating the lie…how do you sleep at night?”
Don: “On a bed made of money.”
— Mad Men