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  • Mad Men

    Anyone watching/watched Mad Men? I've just finished the first season, and I'm so in love... (spoilers through the first season)

    My first impression of the show was so different from what I think about it now. I was impressed but unmoved, in the beginning. I felt like the characters were somewhat stiff and unreadable, that perhaps it wasn't really a show about characters at all but about a time and place. Which, to a certain extent I do feel is true - this is obviously a show about Manhattan, in 1960. But what's so interesting to me now is that it seems all about the characters - and the way in which that time and place shaped them. In particular, I find it a very striking portrayal of masculinity in 1960. I feel like we are often surrounded by pop culture level references/ideas of what it was like to be a woman in the 1950s and 60s, in movies like Mona Lisa Smile for example. Though rarely to my mind have they been so full of depth and complexity as in Mad Men. But men in the 1950s/60s seem to blur into a cardboard version of Ricky Ricardo or something...one of the most interesting moments for me in the entire series thus far was when Pete Campbell and Peggy are sitting in his office after he's been forced by his wife to bring back his rifle, and he paints this word picture of a life as an all powerful, masculine, dominating man, who hunts for his food and has a little woman standing by the stove, waiting to cook it and serve it to him and watch him eat it. The scene is so surreal and yet effective because Peggy seems so moved and attracted by this image, despite the fact that in many ways she is the woman in the office with the least apparent desire to take on that kind of role. This tableau of Pete, who likely grew up with this image he's describing in his head as what a man is, finding himself as a subordinate in an office and unable to control his wife in the way that he wants, sitting next to a woman who's fighting to have a man's job (as a copywriter) and yet is deeply attracted by this picture of utterly submissive femininity...is intense and bizarre and overwhelming. And by far the best depiction of what I'd imagine gender roles in 1960 were like.

    The fact that Pete is my absolute least favorite character and Peggy confuses and sometimes bores the sh*t out of me...just makes this scene all the more impressive.

    Well, I won't go on too much...but just to briefly mention that the portrayal of homosexuality at that time is especially gut wrenching and gorgeously done. The scene with Joan and her roommate Carol just about broke my heart.

    Anyone else watching? Anyone have any thoughts about the season finale? Who's your favorite character, what do you like about the show?
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