Saturday, August 9, 2008

Mad Men: Season 1

So what is this one about?
AMC (yes, American Movie Classics) tells us about their show on their website.
Set in 1960s New York, the sexy, stylized and provocative AMC drama Mad Men follows the lives of the ruthlessly competitive men and women of Madison Avenue advertising, an ego-driven world where key players make an art of the sell.
The series revolves around the conflicted world of Don Draper (Hamm), the biggest ad man (and ladies man) in the business, and his colleagues at the Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency. As Don makes the plays in the boardroom and the bedroom, he struggles to stay a step ahead of the rapidly changing times and the young executives nipping at his heels. The series also depicts authentically the roles of men and women in this era while exploring the true human nature beneath the guise of 1960s traditional family values.
And how much did I pay to watch?
Nothing, because my mom recorded it off the tv during a marathon and then I watched them all on dvr. Because we are a family of ballers who have a dvr.

And what did I think?
Well, there are plenty of things to say about this one. But my neftlix commentary accurately, if only in 200 characters, gives the basic explanation of what I think. I said, "This one is odd, because I can tell it is very good, but I feel as if I missed something. Like there was some chunk of exposition I missed...otherwise it is just too nuanced and goes over my head." Its weird. I guess it is how the show was designed, but it always seems like I've missed something. I guess AMC has decided to not work in a linear fashion which piques interest so people keep watching because they want to learn more about the characters, but perhaps my brain is too childish and stupid to understand what is going on. This is a very depressing realization for me. But I don't really get it, because I don't understand why characters do what they do, or even how the agency works (or even what the agency does!!).

But, I do keep watching.

Why? Oh, many reasons.

1) the costumes are amazing!! I mean amazing. And the sets! And the actors! Everything and everyone in this show is so beautiful, it is like watching a beautiful painting. (Just like Solyaris) And because I clearly only care about visually appealing things, because my brain is too puny to understand complicated things, this show is ideal for me.

2) I like seeing the 'moment in time' aspect of a show that is supposedly so spot on in it's description of 1960s life. I think a lot of people, including my mom, have a problem with the entrenched sexism in the lives of the women characters (or the gay characters), but I actually like it. I think it is really interesting to watch. And because I am so far removed from that sort of life/expectations/ blah blah, I don't find it offensive and it doesn't really make me angry. I just think to myself, "well, thats how things were"

3) Because some of the characters are so fascinating to watch in their development. I know this is completely contrary to what I said about the show earlier. Some of the characters--Peggy, Joan, Pete, and Betty--are just so intriguing to me. I think this has to be credited to the acting and the writing. For example, Pete is so irritating 95% of the time, but sometimes he is so sad and conflicted and as an audience you feel so bad for him! The fact that the writers can create someone who is so abhorrent and yet, the actor can make you feel so sympathetic for him...DAMN, its amazing!

4) Last but not least, because if I were a character in this show I would be one of the women who are the mistresses, not the wives. The men are always so tragically in love with the mistresses, and their wives are labotimized women who are totally sheltered. It all just goes to how romantic it all seems that the men are trapped in their lives, and their mistresses are the one bright point in their day. (That said, I don't condone real life people cheating on their partners) It just adds to the intense characterization that the writers have created. And, because as an audience member it pulls me in.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
Well, now I understand that Mad Men is supposedly the greatest thing to happen to tv since The Sopranos. But I don't really like it as much. I don't think they are equivalent. (Well, maybe except that Don Draper is a sociopath just like good ol' Tony Soprano) As I have already communicated, I just feel like there is something missing from the show, some sort of explanation that helps the audience understand what is going on more.

So I sort of think all of the praise is a bit overrated. However, the show is amazing, like I would expect an AMC show to be, its like each episode is a little movie. And for that I really appreciate it.

This show is not a 10. But, I am drawn to watch to see what happens. I give it an 8.

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