Monday, October 11, 2010

Why I'm Bored with Mad Men


Warning: there be spoilers ahead

To be perfectly honest with you, I've been bored with Mad Men since the middle of the first season. I watch it partly because of the costumes and set designs, but mostly because I feel a sense of obligation to watch it, i.e. "Oh, I love your outfit! You must watch Mad Men."
Part of my dissatisfaction may stem from the fact that I don't watch a lot of soap opera formula shows, aside from Bones, where at least the murder will be solved by the end of the episode, even if the character development isn't.
Everything if always perfect. The offices don't look like they're being used throughout the day and everyday, not just when the cameras are there. There is never a paper, ash tray or a book that has been moved, every prop is always just so. The costumes (not clothing) are always perfectly crisp, straight and ironed. Nothing looks like it has been worn multiple times over a period of months or years or mended or even home made. There is never a hair that has randomly fallen loose or a hair style that has gone flat by the middle of the afternoon. Everything of an aesthetic value looks like it was copied from Taschen's All American Ads of the 60's. In comparison, watch a couple of episodes of my favourite TV show, which I doubt if Matthew Weiner or Janie Bryant have even seen, to see how people in offices in the Sixties actually looked. Or even look at family snaps from the Sixties on Flickr, where people had *gasp* wrinkled clothes. No one was ever that perfectly dressed and never made fashion mistakes.
In terms of character development, glaciers move faster. Expect for Harry and Peggy (but only just), no one has moved beyond what their character was like in the pilot. And just look at how slow things have been this season. Sally should have run away in episode 3, that failure of a doctor Greg should have been killed in Vietnam (c'mon, you know he's going to), Betty is still an unhappy child, obsessed with superficial perfection and Don is still coasting on his belief in his own awesomeness.
But the real reason why I'm bored with Mad Men is how wrong they've been getting the Sixties. Aside from a few passing references to all of the changes that have been going on, nothing has changed in the world of SCDP since the pilot. Yes, the clothing and sets are changing but the attitudes aren't. If Mad Men is intended to show how everything changed in the Sixties and created the society that we live in today, I don't see it. Where is Helen Gurley Brown? The talk of movies becoming racier as the Code was slowly being scrapped? What about the books that were being banned on moral grounds? Why are they only showing the downward spiral of New York now instead of when it started with Penn Station being destroyed? What about the biggest thing to have happened in the Sixties to America, after the Moon landing, JFK and the Pill? Anyone? That's right, The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. They've only just mentioned The Beatles two weeks ago in the summer of 1965 and didn't even play a song, just an instrumental version of "If I Fell" played over the credits. Couldn't they get permission from Paul and Yoko? The Beatles changed everything; culturally, fashion-y and musically speaking. And yet Mad Men skipped right over them and went right into the Stones and heroin. The times were a'changing, but not in the world of Mad Men. What will happen when the show gets to 1966 and 1967?


Cheri Pinktrix said...

I like Mad Men but I don't necessarily think it's the be all and end all. I am definitely worried about 66 and 67 because my vintage fashion love ends in about 65. However as my dad likes to say, the people who were adults in the 50's and 60's continued to dress that way for most of the 70's. Most did not become hippies it was only the younger generation that did.

Andi B. Goode said...

I actually didn't get past two or three episodes of Mad Men, to tell the truth. So I can't really comment but I'm glad to see someone blogging in a less positive way about it because everyone else thinks it's positively the best thing ever!
-Andi x