It’s all about how you sell it.
Are you watching Mad Men yet? If so, good, because I’m almost ready to start a weekend discussion group about it. If not… why?! I have to admit, I was only mildly curious about the show because I’m a fan of that part of the 1960’s and from the promos it looked like they really went out of their way to painstakingly reproduce it. Modern day shows don’t look as tight as this one does. There are videos and synopses on the website, the usual offerings, and this Sunday they’re running a marathon of it on AMC. I think the episodes are still on iTunes too, as well as other places around the internet.
I didn’t think I’d like the series as much as I have, but it’s not so much what you see that’s intriguing. It’s the subtext in every scene, the layers peeled back from these supposedly idyllic and hedonistic lives. For a show set around people working for an advertising agency, you would honestly see more talk about the industry on an episode of “Bewitched” — John Slattery does sorta resemble David White, just a whole lot sexier. And while it looks pretty, it doesn’t feel that way. You see people trapped into lives they made for themselves, sometimes to escape, other times to survive. In every episode, the viewer keeps finding out that the main character isn’t who we think he is, and at times it seems like he’s not even sure. It’s set in an era where racism and sexism were very common. An ad exec looks over layout for a lipstick campaign and after complaining that he doesn’t get it says, “I don’t speak moron, do any of you speak moron?” referring to being unable to develop a woman’s perspective. It seems odd to see smoking in the office as commonplace, but even more strange is drinking is treated with even less scorn. Bloody Marys for morning meetings, Mai Tais for a meeting about travel and tourism, “hair of the dog” to shake off a bad night, booze is everywhere! There’s one lunch scene in episode 7 that sort of turns into a competition of constantly refilled martini glasses and platters of oysters that is almost painful to watch.
I was going to write that it’s odd for me to get so caught up in a series that isn’t sci-fi, but this really is like science fiction, not because it’s so fictional, but because it’s so true, it feels more real than a reality show. It’s the view of this era that we very rarely saw, all the walls are down and everything is visible. I doubt I would want such an all-penetrating eye in my own life, but to experience a bygone era this way is a lot of fun.
If ya got space on your TiVo/DVR, I’d add it or wait for the DVDs to come out. I for one am hoping that they come with a special “subtext” audio track. 🙂