Friday, August 7, 2009

Mad Men

Some weeks coming up with blog topics is not easy. This week, however, I was inspired. Reading a writing book on Monday at the gym gave me great thoughts about inspiration. Not just about writing, but quilting, stamping, making art of any kind. The blog was flowing through my brain like the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

Only one problem: car trouble. This morning, the usually trustworthy auto started acting up so off to the mechanics I went. Left the car there for them to work and walked home. Easy peasy.

Except that the inspiring book is in the car. At the mechanics. I can’t write my blog without it.

So here I am searching for a new blog topic. Because I don’t have a car, I have the freedom to spend the day a little differently than I planned. I had made arrangements to go to Sophie Littlefield’s signing. Her debut novel, A Bad Day for Sorry, came out this week. She likes to quilt so I thought I’d spend the time sewing that I would have spent traveling to Danville.

And watching Mad Men. I’m hooked on this show. The new season starts soon and I just treated myself to the second season DVD. This is a period piece, taking place in the early sixties in the advertising world. The dialogue is great, the layers of the story deep, and there are plenty of people trying to do the right things. But not quite succeeding.

There’s a lot of car trouble in the shows. The creator, Matt Weiner, comments that we don’t have this kind of problem much any more. Cars seem to run better now. In the sixties and seventies, we were always breaking down somewhere. I remember breaking down in Times Square, back when that was a squalid place, not a Disney movie set. In Mad Men, cars give their owners a lot of trouble and put them in awkward situations.

I relate to this show on a couple of levels. I love the complicated adult story lines, I love the period details, but I’m also connecting with the young kids on the show.

I’m about the same age as Don Draper’s daughter, Sally would be now. My dad was in sales and went to work in a suit and tie, coming home at bedtime after a long day away. I had the same straight cut bangs and wore my Peter Pan shirts tucked into my pants. She’s a good cocktail maker, which I don’t recall ever being asked to do, but I was often sent to the store for Hershey’s syrup and cigarettes.

Child care was different in those days. In one episode, Don boots Sally out of the room with his toe. Other times he swats her over the head with the newspaper. I remember those signs of affection. It was an era when kids were to be seen and not heard, when public displays of affectation weren’t encouraged and no one was saying “I love you” to their friends like I hear from kids today. The gently swats and firm taps were a way of connecting.

I’m glad for my nieces that their fathers are able to express themselves in a myriad of ways, but seeing Don Draper put his hat on his daughter when she greets him at the door reminds me that fathers didn’t have that option back then, but they did the best they could.


Betty Hechtman said...

Mad Men sounds good. I'll have to check it out. I used to love American Dream- I think that it what it was called. It took place in the sixties and followed a family. I knew I was getting a little nutty when I starting paying attention to the music in the show and realized their timing was off. Somehow I was able to figure out what year it was supposed to be and whatever song it was hadn't come out yet. I can't believe I actually emailed the show and pointed out the error.

Yikes, how geeky can you get.

Sheila Connolly said...

I've had trouble getting into Mad Men (watched the first couple of episodes) because it all looked so familiar. Yes, I was growing up in that era, with a father who came through the door at six o'clock, wearing a suit and hat, and made a beeline for the martinis. I guess I must have unhappy memories of that time, because watching the show makes me uncomfortable.

I suppose that's evidence that the show's creators are doing a good job in recreating that milieu.

Terri Thayer said...

I watched the first season and second season without realizing this was my childhood. My parents didn't drink like they do on the show and we didn't live in the suburbs (that came later) so I wasn't relating.

The period detail is spot on and the depiction of attitudes and mores, especially towards women, is fantastic. The women are far more interesting than the men who spend way too much time drinking to realize their lifestyle is almost over. Good stuff.

Camille Minichino said...

I love the show, too, though my father had to dump his muddy work clothes on the porch before stepping into the house.

But the whole look of the show is authentic to the period, even the jargon. Who ever says "Drop dead" (in an affectionate way) any more?

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