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.

1 comment:

Doria said...

It actually takes place in the 60s!