Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mad Men Returns

Am I the only one left holding the torch of narrative television?

Well, since I am missing the obviously extremely recessive gene that would allow me to enjoy reality television, I have to cling to what few dramas are left on the tube.  Sorry, I mean the LCD.  Well, the slip is fine, since this'll be a "retro" article about a "retro" show.

This week, MAD MEN returned. 

pictured, the cast as photographed for Vanity Fair by Sam Jones.

As with most one-hour dramas these days, there are gay characters! There are not only three gay characters (it being the 1950's and all, they are closeted, of course), but one out-actor starring and that would be Bryan Batt.  The three closeted 'mos are Batt's character, Salvatore Romano, the lesbian horse riding instructor Gertie (Denise Crosby) and hottie Joan's room mate Carol (as seen in this clip).

There are also two black people on the show - the maid and the elevator operator. So much is political incorrect, but don't look away! This was America post WWII, post Korea. This is what we fought for - the rise of business and industry and that glorious facade that hid so much.

The show takes place in New York City right on the cusp of change, as the calendar turned from 1959 to 1960. MAD MEN depicts that time period's American propaganda at it's finest. 

Ad men on Madison Avenue sip their martinis for lunch, smoke their Pall Malls and pinch the secretary's asses whilst back in the 'burbs, a slew of Mrs's are proud of their whirlpool washer/dryers, Frigidaires and pushing out their 2.5 kids by the age of 28 whilst making sure they have a chicken in every pot and a white picket fence lining each yard.

Little did they all know what is in store from them soon (the escalation in Vietnam, Kennedy assassination, Martin Luther King, ERA, civil right's movement, Rosa Parks, Stonewall, Kent State, Flower Power, etc)

pictured, out and proud: Bryan Batt

These Mad Men package and sell to the public everything from Kodak's slide carousel to coffee to even the presidential candidates, since it's all just a sales game, baby. As they climb the ladder of success to lasso that American Dream, they barely even notice that their souls are slipping from their heads. What to do? Kick back another martini and have an affair.   

MAD MEN is one of those shows that somehow appeals to both liberals and misogynists (the later because they're really not in on the joke - like those people that watch The Simpsons because they think Homer is a crack-up.)   The creator of the show is a former SOPRANOS scribe, Matthew Weiner, and he knows his way around a thick soap plot and complicated characters. 

If you have HDTV, prepare to melt into the production design and costumes. Absolutely delicious. Many of my friends here in SoCal have MAD MEN viewing parties, which is a wonderful reason to pull out that fab antique cocktail set you picked up, and your rad 1950's era cocktail plates.

4 pithy remarks. Click here to Comment:

TheWeyrd1 said...

I've been watching the show. I want to dislike it, but it's kind of

Doria said...

It actually takes place in the 60s!

m said...

i'm not particularly interested in watching a show where if i wanted to be on it, i'd be a maid. there were plenty of exceptional people of color who beat the insurmountable odds BEFORE the civil rights movement to be sucessful. the creators COULD'VE chosen to explore a story in that vein, but took the easy route, and black people are relegated being depicted as help they have been for the the past 100 years in cinema and tv. i'm sorry how is this supposed to be different again? because there was some "forethought" or "irony" (see obama and michelle in the new yorker) behind portraying a black person as a mammy or uncle ben? this country is NOT that evolved to have an honest conversation about racism or sexism yet, so to me the show is just that, perpetuating racism and sexism so...nope, i can't see myself EVER supporting this show. but i do like how they used amy winehouse's song in the promos.

JD said...

I suspect they are depicted the American culture of the 1960's with it's discrimination of both women and people of color as a set-up to pay off later in the series as this was the beginning of the civil rights movement and the women's rights movements. In their timeline, it's all going to kick off when Kennedy gets assassinated. It also depicts a lot of drinking and smoking as well as a slew of other subtle signs of the time that basically kinda rip the veneer off the fact that "the American way" at that time was a rouse.