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Mad about “Mad Men” (and Women)

on March 31, 2012

I love the TV show “Mad Men”. I’ve watched it from the very first show. It’s been about a year and a half since the last season and I was excited for the season premiere.  I was slightly annoyed that it was scheduled to air while I was on New Orleans. (I even briefly entertained the idea of staying in Sunday night while we were in the Big Easy, so I could watch it. Thank goodness our hotel didn’t have AMC – I would have missed one of the best nights of my trip!)

I had brushed up on the previous season so I remembered everything that waited to be resolved: Joanie was pregnant with Roger’s child, Don was engaged to his 25-year-old secretary, crazy Betty was acting like she wanted Don back, and the final scene of the last season: Don laying awake in bed with his new fiance with an expression I interpreted as, “What the heck did I do?

Thursday night I made a date with my husband and we finally watched. He asked what I thought and I said:  It felt funny.I don’t recognize anyone – Don isn’t acting like Don, Peggy isn’t acting like Peggy, Joan isn’ t acting like Joan. Even Sally seemed mature and subdued.

But… I am still hooked. And as on previous seasons, it is the women who intrigue and move me. The 60’s were such a transitional time for women and all the characters are struggling to find there place in this new world. The sobering thing is, women still struggle with these issues: how to be taken seriously in the workplace, balancing work and family, sexual harassment. Peggy, Joan, Betty, and Megan are all dealing with these issues, and I can’t help rooting for them all. I even find myself  liking Megan (although I don’t really want to).

 And with one sentence Stirling, Cooper, Draper, Price exposed the depth of their biases and prejudices.  To a room full of African-American job applicants: “we’re only hiring secretaries, so all you men can go.”  How many people were insulted by that sentence? The message was:being a secretary is women’s work. And if we have to have black people in the workplace, we must not allow black men to threaten our jobs. Better to let black women come in and serve us.

The two-hour premiere raised more questions than it answered. How long will the happy newlywed act last for Don & Megan? It looks like the honeymoon is already over, but Don has  shown that living a lie is second nature to him. How fast will Joanie get back to work? Next week I’m guessing. Will Roger stop blowing cigarette smoke in his baby’s face? Not likely! Where’s Betty and her boring husband? (Morticia and Lurch – loved that!) And what will happen to Peggy? Will she finally admit to herself that she’s in love with Don? with Pete? with Duck? (no way!!) That she loves her job and doesn’t need a man to be fulfilled? Will Megan do another sexy song and dance?

There are aspects of all the “mad women” I relate to, although when I think about it, it should be Sally I relate to most. She is about the same age as I was in 1966, but her life is very different from mine (although some of the outfits look remarkably similar).  I hope “Mad Men” sticks around till they at least reach 1969. I just know Sally Draper will be at Woodstock!


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