Sunday, February 12, 2012
A couple of years ago the cool kids began talking about this TV show, “Mad Men.” It sounded interesting but, as I did not (and still do not) have cable TV, I couldn’t watch it. But I do have a Netflix account and have just watched the first three episodes of the first season. Interesting. I’ll watch more.
It’s only in the last few years that I finally got rid of those narrow ties that I bought in the mid-60s, as narrow as the ties worn by Draper and others. And I remember how the house at the corner of Mayluth Road and Cherry Lane was owned by a divorcee, who ran (owned?) a women’s clothing store. She was an anomaly in the neighborhood, though she didn’t drive a Volkswagen like Helen Bishop. As far as I know, my family was the first one in the neighborhood to get a VW bug, which my father bought as a second car. His company, Bethlehem Steel, disapproved, as it was foreign, made of foreign steel.
I don’t remember any particular cattiness about the local divorcee, but then those conversations wouldn’t have happened in my presence. I do, however, have the sense that this or that woman was know to take an extra drink or two.
All of which is to say that I remember that world. I’d guess I was half a dozen years older than Draper’s daughter, more or less. What I’m wondering is how the show is going to lean on the difference between the world back then and the world now. And, to the extent that it leans, in what direction?
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Meanwhile, ”Mad Men” showed up in a New York Times piece about Mimi Beardsley (now Alford). In 1962 she was a 19 year old intern in the White House press office who was promptly seduced by President Kennedy, beginning an 18-month affair.
... she associated the White House not with Camelot but with the sexy, deceptive dystopia of television’s “Mad Men,” in which comely young women service their married bosses, as glasses clink, ashtrays fill and everyone keeps mum about the misbehavior.
“God, I love ‘Mad Men,’ ” Ms. Alford told me. “All of it is exactly what was going on.” When she arrived at the White House as a teenager, she said, she “wanted to be Peggy” — an ambitious “Mad Men” character. But the part she ended up playing was closer the frustrated wife of the lead character, Don Draper. “I think I probably relate most to Betty Draper,” she admits.
I wonder if watching “Mad Men” has helped her think about those years? Perhaps they’re so long ago that she doesn’t need any help. But then, why would she love the show?