More on Mad Men

7 Mar

Don Draper. Fierce.

The U.S television off-season is usually when I try and catch up with the shows I’d missed the previous year, but with the Winter Olympics and other shenanigans shows are all over the place, the shows I’d been following since Christmas (Archer, Community, Parks and Recreation) are on their way out, Lost is in mid-stride and there’s a few new shows out already (out of them I’m pretty much just watching Caprica). This doesn’t leave a lot of catch-up time, so the only show I’m watching out of schedule at the moment is Mad Men. Damn it’s good.

I’ve noticed that a lot of the people who are hooked on Mad Men at the moment are older than I am, people in their late 40’s and 50’s. This isn’t a complete surprise, it depicts an era they grew up in and it’s a staunchly adult show- there isn’t a single troubled teen to be found. Mad Men is more than just a simple costume drama (although, if you like costumes, this is the show to watch, the design is impeccable), it’s a really clever exploration of America’s changing moral climate.

As I mentioned last week, the immaculate sets and costuming are in themselves a metaphor for society’s facade- one that must change with the times or risk destruction. Season 2 demonstrates the pressure the 1960’s brought to this perfect post-war society, and what happens to people whose authority is slowly disappearing. Kinsey returns from the Season 1 break with a beatnik pipe, a beard and an African-American girlfriend, and the response is decidedly mixed. A few embrace his new lifestyle, others see it as a desperate and shallow attempt at coolness. He fares far better than some.

Mad Men uses a unique motif of bodily functions, at a point in their lives where they can no longer cope with the status quo and they seemingly break from the inside- Betty vomits on her way back from a party, Freddy Rumsen wets himself before a big meeting, and Don passes out by a pool in Palm Springs. These characters are stuck in their ways, and it takes drastic measures from their own bodies to force them into taking action. There’ll probably be more examples I’ve missed, comment if you know of any.

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