Oh my Lord in Heaven.
I’m not one for watching “series” on TV. I usually can’t get interested in a story line long enough to watch for any length of time. However, a few weeks ago Shrew recommended Mad Men. “You will love it”, she said. While skeptical, I decided to puruse Hulu to find it, but evidently AMC (American Movie Classics), the cable network that carries Mad Men, does not license through Hulu, BUT did have one episode — the second season premier. I decided to watch this episode and if it garnered my interest, I would download season one from iTunes, to keep me company on my many business trips.
Naturally, I LOVED IT. I have completed season one and am anxiously awaiting the weekend when I can catch up on season two, which is conveniently available (for free) on On Demand. YAHOO!!!
If you watch Mad Men, you know how I can love it so. If you haven’t watched, YOU HAVE TO!! Set in the early 60s, the characters lives revolve around a Madison Avenue advertising agency. The nostalgia is phenomenal, to the point where you think you’ve entered a time warp and are right there with the girls in the secretarial pool, adjusting your Playtex bra and dodging the wayward hands of your boss.
The show is so honestly unpolitically correct that it’s realism captivates. Here is a video I found on YouTube that lists the Top 10 politically incorrect moments in Mad Men (so far):
Of course, the brilliance of this is that in 1960, this was perfectly accepted behavior. And, there are many more where these came from. Women smoking and drinking while pregnant, drinking in the office (at any hour), incessant smoking — anywhere and everywhere by everybody, and the perfect mother worrying about her six year old “getting fat” are just a few of the issues that folks today would simply be mortified over.
And then there’s the sex. Everyone is doing or trying to do everybody else. While likely a little over done, the show does expose “the greatest generation’s” proclivity for extra marital dalliances — particularly in action-packed New York City when commerce and culture were seeping from every pore of the city.
Oh, and the music….I love me some nostalgia music, as I call it and Mad Men does not disappoint. Here’s a few of my favorites from the first two seasons:
Band of Gold, Don Cherry
P.S., I Love You, Bobby Vinton
Babylon (Written by Don McLean)
Botcha Me, Rosemary Clooney (ignore the drag queen)
The Twist, Chubby Checker
Fly Me to the Moon, Julie London
Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright, Bob Dylan
Theme from Summer Place, Percy Faith Orchestra
Break It To Me Gently, Brenda Lee
I’m Through With Love, Marilyn Monroe
Man, I just LOVE this stuff. The songs, the era, the stories, and oh, the characters. My favorite is Ad Agency owner Roger Sterling, played superbly (and oh so handsomely) by John Slattery.
Anyway, even though the story of Mad Men takes place a couple of years before I was born, there is something oddly familiar about it all. Even though things had changed (and not necessarily for the better) by the early 70s and my formative years, alot of what is portrayed in Mad Men was still happening. While society continued to become more “open”, it also became much less tolerant of, and dare I say militant against, the obvious sexism and male dominance of everything in business and otherwise.
Even through the bawdy behavior and pervasive deceptiveness, there’s still a wonderful innocence of a world before assassinations, marches in the streets and really, really bad clothes. Watching Mad Men provides a glimpse into the end of an era…likely the most exciting time in recent U.S. history. Post WWII society, drunk on money, sex and freedom.
While you may be shocked by some of the behavior of these peers of our elders, I dare you not to have a few good laughs when you watch Mad Men and relish in the fact that yes, “you’ve come a long way, baby”.