Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mad Men Is Still Maddeningly Good!

***SPOILER ALERT*** If you watch "Mad Men" on AMC and haven't seen this week's episode, come back after you've watched it!

I have shared in the past about "Mad Men", and the fact that it is one of the best shows on television. I am already lamenting the fact that Season 2, which started back in July, is about two-thirds over. The fascinating thing about this show, set in 1962, is that it uses the past to show us a picture of ourselves today.

One of the themes of this week's episode, for example, dealt with Joan, the sexy office secretary who showed intelligence and insight while reviewing TV scripts for a junior executive, only to find her new and exciting work shuffled off to a new, less worthy, MALE employee. Back to the steno pool, dear - and don't let the door hit your bodaciously blessed derriere on the way out, sweetie! Interestingly enough, this portrait of unrestrained sexism comes just as the Republicans and Democrats point fingers at each other over which party is being more sexist in a more veiled way vis a vis Clinton and Palin. We may find the way women are treated on "Mad Men" to be appalling, but we are reminded that the issue has never gone away.

My favorite part of this week's episode, however, dealt with the marital woes of our attractive suburban couple, Don and Betty. Betty has rightly accused Don of having an affair, and even though his hand is still in the proverbial cookie jar, Don can't bring himself to fess up to this unthinkable sin. In fact, by the end of the episode, Don has gone from sleeping on the sofa to being banned from the house altogether - an unthinkable scandal in 1962!

I remember when my parents spilt over similar "cookie jar" issues in the 60's, and how traumatic it was to be around my school mates. Divorce was almost unthinkable back then, and in fact, my sisters and I were the ONLY kids in the neighborhood whose parents had ever broken up. It was like having a scarlet "A" spray-painted on our house! To see all of this being played out now on television in the same general time frame is fascinating, and I can't wait to find out how this will be played on the show. My bet is that Don and Betty will not break up - there's simply too much at stake both at work and in the neighborhood for them to stay apart!

The next time you find yourself mocking your parents for what you might see as their backwards, or perhaps, outdated values system, just remember that their generation had to figure out how to deal with issues like infidelity and sexism and out-of-wedlock pregnancy and homosexuality (two other big "Mad Men" themes) without Dr. Phil or Oprah to talk them through it. We were a much more closeted nation in 1962. And it's quite educational to be shown how people dealt (or did not deal) with their sins, as Fred Grandy would say, "back in the day".

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