Friday, October 7, 2011

Hi, My Name is Janice, and I'm an Addict

I admit it.  I'm addicted to Mad Men.  It appears I'm not alone in my addiction since a word has been coined to describe those who have gotten swept up into the advertising world of the 1960s--Maddicts.  My son Chris got me hooked on the AMC show when he was home for the holidays.  I tuned in during the fourth season, and this summer I signed up for Netflix, which we have set up to stream past episodes through our Wii.  I've been catching up on the previous seasons. I just finished season two, and it got me to wondering why I'm enjoying this show so much.  OK, Jon Hamm, who plays Don Draper, and John Slattery, who plays Roger Sterling, are pretty nice to look at, but there are many things about the show that also appeal to me. 

One is setting.  As I mentioned before, it is set in the early 60s. I was born in 1960 and spent my childhood during that decade.  In 50 short years, we have changed so much.  The last episode I watched  showed Betty Draper, boiling pots of water and putting them inside her refrigerator to defrost it.  I remember my mom doing that.  The clothing has also changed so much.  Of course, there are sex scenes, and with the girdles, garters, long-line bras, that these actors have to wade through, it's a wonder there ever was a baby boom!  Discussing how we have changed socially would take too long to highlight now so we'll save that for another day.

Another aspect I like about the show is that it weaves historical events into the episodes.  This second season showed the reaction of the office staff at the death of Marilyn Monroe, and the last episode I watched took place during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  I knew that was a tense time as my Uncle Tom, who had been discharged from the army after fulfilling his duty, was called up for another year of service because of the crisis. But I had no idea that people really thought this was the end of the world and made provisions like moving away from NYC.  I think I've learned more history from novels and shows like Mad Men than any history book. 

Is there any story that has helped you to understand history better?  Off the top of my head, the John Jakes Revolutionary America series, the mini-series Holocaust, and  The Idiot by Dostoyevsky brought history to life for me.

The final reason I love the show is the characters.  I simultaneously hate and love Don and Roger.  Most mobster movies feature these complex types of characters.  While they do repulsive things, we are nevertheless fascinated by them.  Henry Hill in Goodfellas is one such character.  

Is there any shows or stories that you have followed that featured characters that you loved and hated at the same time?

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