Monday, August 18, 2008

brief thoughts on mad men

I'm about halfway through Season 1.

1. I really like the clothes the ladies wear. From the shirtwaists and full skirts of the housewives (and the party dresses!) to the fitted sheaths and pencil skirts on the office ladies. I am back into cardigans and bow collared necklines. Fortunately, I was retro before retro became cool those several times ('94, '97, '02, '08). I actually have pencil skirts, full skirts, sheath dresses, and swing coats, chemises. Also, stockings and pumps. I never wear them though, because it seems ridiculous to dress up at Crunchy Granola Law School. Maybe for the days I take classes at the business school. A girdle sounds very useful, but my aversion to discomfort will mean that I never wear one. I am rather inspired, sartorially speaking. Joan is a total fashion muse, and gives busty and hippy women a good name--she rocks the hourglass figure, even if her waist-to-hip ratio isn't MGM standards. I feel hopeful and inspired.

2. Men in grey flannel suits and fedoras are awesome. Also, bring back Brylcreem! Don Draper is beguilingly handsome and complicated-sexy. Old fashioned and old school, he both "respects" the ladies and uses women like a dry cleaning service. Pete Campbell is an asshole, but I will admit, an oddly magnetic one. Maybe because he reminds me of my love-hate relationship with Wil Wheaton, also known as Wesley Crusher (I hated Wesley, I love Wil's blog). Actually, they're all assholes. I am somewhat bothered by the fact that I feel attracted to their characters. They're not very well developed characters though (with the exception of Pete and Don), and so it's mainly the suits and clean-cut hair and chiseled good looks that I'm drawn to, so maybe I don't feel so bad. I was never one for the bad boy type, so actually I like the guy with glasses and a bow tie the best (after Don).

3. This show is a splendid critique of the pre-post-modern era and its burgeoning discontents. Wow, the sexual harassment. Good exploration of sexuality and gender issues (even if the stereotypes are so cliche as to be almost flat; e.g. madonna wife Betty/whore mistress Midge, Betty Friedan-cum-Stepford Betty, , the women's characters are more richly complex). But where's all of the Civil Rights Era stuff? I suppose it's coming, since Season 2 is set in 1962 and Season 1 was set in 1960.

4. As interesting as the gender wars are, I find the Don-Pete, Joan-Peggy intra-gender tension the most interesting. Ah, office politics. I'm actually reading a book on conflict management in corporations.

5. I really wish I had 60's Eames-style furniture.