Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Why I’m Still Geeking Out About Mad Men - by contributor Susie Grissom

Jon Hamm as Don Draper
Like every other Mad Men fan in the country, I am waiting impatiently for 2015 to arrive. Why? Because that is when Mad Men will return to the air for their final episodes, and we will finally learn how it is all going to end. The final episodes have been filmed, the cast have gone their separate ways, and all there is left to do is wait. Don Draper and co. have rather unexpectedly entered our lives and left a permanent impression that will last far beyond the end of the final season. What began as a small niche show quickly spread and grew in popularity until it was a worldwide phenomenon. What was termed at ‘the Mad Men phenomenon’ has led to the current revival of all things mid-century in terms of fashion and style, and interior design. Never seen the show and not sure what you’re missing? It’s never too late to jump on board and catch up. Here’s a quick overview of some of the show highlights that make Mad Men must-watch TV:

Here Come The Girls!

Peggy, Joan, and Betty in the early days of Mad Men
Despite its title, Mad Men is a show about men and women, and some of the most interesting issues it deals with are the dramatic changes in women's lives in the 1960s. From women that are glamorous to women that are ambitious, to women that are homebodies and women that are mothers, the whole spectrum of female life in the era is covered in the show and the way those women deal with societies changing expectations of them is truly fascinating. Joan and Peggy are two of the most interesting female characters, as they represent women truly striving to forge ahead with their careers for the pleasure of it, rather than due to financial need: something that was relatively new at the time.

Hello, Don Draper!

Don Draper is almost single handedly responsible for the renaissance of men wearing slick slim fitting suits and slicking back their hair. He oozes charm and sexuality; as cliché as it sounds, and despite his misogyny and other obvious problems, men want to be him and women want to be with him. Watching him in action is certainly one of the highlights of the early shows. In these early days of free love he regularly has extra marital affairs and indulges in one night stands outside the confines of his relationships. Throughout the series, we see Don divorce his original wife Betty, marry the effortlessly elegant Megan, and indulge in affairs or short-term relationships with at least twelve other women. It's no wonder that Don Draper has  been listed as one of the men on TV most likely to have a sexually transmitted disease. Despite all of this, Don is a nuanced and occasionally vulnerable character that it's difficult not to like and watching him in action is one of the highlights of the show.

Mind The Pay Gap
Mad Men office cronies

Office etiquette and work place behavior has changed dramatically since the Mad Men era, but watching the show really does make you appreciate the work place changes that have happened in a relatively short period of time. Can you imagine that just 50 years ago the only role available for women in an office was as a secretary? We’re still a long way from gender pay equality, but at least in most offices and other workplaces women are treated as equals and can strive to reach the top of their chosen career ladder (even if, in certain situations, this is something that is still made much more difficult for women than it is for men). However there certainly are lessons that ambitious professionals can glean from the show. The show has dealt with issues such as ambitious women executives, fist fights between colleagues, and even the perils of attempting to build a second career outside of your office hours. When accounts man Ken Cosgrove reveals that he is also writing sci-fi novels as a sideline, for example, Don threatens to sack him unless he gives up his second job: A problem that many aspiring writers have to deal with at any given time.

Mad Men is a fantastic show and one that it is really easy to geek out about. If you haven’t seen it yet, now is the perfect moment to catch up before it’s all over.

Susie Grissom is now a freelance writer, but before she took to putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) she worked in the travel industry. When she started her family, she decided to concentrate on being a stay at home mom and indulging her passion for good literature and films.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Susie, for this fun and interesting look at Mad Men. I can't wait for the final season though I'm sad it's ending.