January 10th, 2011


Mad Men Season One: Thoughts

Somehow I've gotten very behind on television the last few years. Fortunately, DVD-by-mail services are a good way to catch up, and one series that T and I are watching right now is Mad Men. We started awhile ago, then got stalled when it took GreenCine (from which we recently switched to Netflix) six months to send us the second disc of Season One. Maybe because of that, it took us a little while to get sucked into it. But we've finally finished the first season, and now we're looking for more.

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Obviously the show and the setting both are dripping with sexism. After we watched the first couple of episodes, T expressed surprise that I was able to watch a show where the sexism was so blatant. In another kind of show, it would indeed bother me, but I actually think it handles the sexism quite well so far. It's a corporate office in Manhattan in the 1960s; of course the people who work there are going to be blatantly racist and sexist (and homophobic, and anti-Semetic, and...). Anything else would feel unrealistic. But it's never presented as a good thing or as something to emulate, and sometimes I get the idea that show is forcing us to question how much has really changed in the last 50 years. Some things, yes, of course. But sometimes I look at the Young Turks and see a gang that would be perfectly in place walking down Wall Street today. I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's a feminist show, but it has some interesting things to say. Regardless, I would much rather watch a show that is self-conscious about portraying the dark side of a particular time and place than the blatant but unconscious sexist portrayals that we see in a lot of modern media.

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