Monday, August 22, 2011

Mad (Mad, I Tell You, Mad!) Men

I have only ever heard good things about the television show Mad Men. But I had never watched it, mainly because I knew that in order to start, I would have to catch up on a few seasons, and I didn’t have enough, you guessed it, time.


My brother recently began to catch up on all the episodes of Mad Men at the encouragement of his girlfriend, and they both encouraged me to take it up as well. Since the three of us share a deep obsession love for LOST, I trust their judgment when it comes to this kind of thing. But I still had the problem of trying to watch four seasons of Mad Men without having to buy them or have them clog up my Netflix queue (yeah, yeah, I know, what a terrible dilemma).

Netflix Instant to the rescue: all four seasons just became available for instant streaming. Plus, the fifth season does not begin until spring, giving me ample time to catch up.

Turns out, I don’t need all that time. I began my foray into the 1960’s Madison Avenue advertising world exactly one week ago and I already have season 1 and most of season 2 under my belt (let me just say, before you think that I am completely bonkers, that there are “only” thirteen episodes per season). I think it is safe to say that I have officially been won over by Mad Men.

It certainly is not hard to be won over by this show though. It presents a very realistic and fascinating peek into the way society functioned in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s. In their world, no one blinks an eye at a pregnant woman smoking and drinking, the men drink at work starting around noon, and it is rare for a woman to be anything other than a housewife or secretary. Yet, all of these fascinating and provocative tidbits are just on the surface. When you look deeper, you find complex, multifaceted characters.

There is no character on this show that I completely like (except for Bobby Draper…I would adopt him if I could), and no one that I completely dislike. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses about them; they are all flawed. Translation: they are all human (gasp!). I forget that I am watching actors play their roles, instead I often feel like I am spying on others’ lives. And that, my friends, is the make of great acting, on a great show.

This love-hate relationship is particularly true for the infamous Don Draper. I find myself routing for him one second, and then hating him the next. Yet, even while I am routing against him, I feel sorry for him. I think many people are a product of their upbringing and their environment, and I think this is painfully true for many of these characters, but especially for Don Draper. I’m looking forward to learning more of the intricacies of his character.

Next to Don Draper, I think the most complex and intriguing character is his wife, Betty Draper. It is the same situation of love-hate in which my heart aches for her, as she seems to be on the edge of a complete nervous breakdown, and then the next second I am deterred by her moments of shallowness.

Yet, her character is the epitome of what I love most about this show. It is a constant reminder to me to be grateful that I live in a time when it is commonplace for women to go to med school and getting married doesn’t mean that you have to stay at home and have dinner ready on the table when your husband gets home.

As much as I enjoy getting a glimpse into this world, I appreciate that I don’t actually have to live in it. Except for the clothes, I wouldn’t mind getting to wear some of those clothes.

Betty Draper, Joan Holloway, Peggy Olson in Mad Men

Don't worry! After watching Mad Men, I would still pick scrubs over an apron (but I do love a good apron)!

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