Saturday, April 5, 2014

First Impression of Mad Men

I thought this would be a novel way to give a review, because sometimes, you just don't want to wait. And with a show that's been going as long as Mad Men or (god forbid) Doctor Who, it just isn't fun at all to wait to finish all 200,000+ episodes just so you can express your opinion with authority. 

I started Mad Men last night, and I'm currently on episode 8. I know, I know, I have a long way to go. But I have to say? If the series finale doesn't end up with all of them dying of lung cancer, I don't know what I'll do, because MY GOD DO THEY SMOKE. But I guess that makes sense, because at that time everyone was in denial to the fact that cigarettes were harmful. 

It's about the executives, secretaries, and their families/friends of an advertising firm in 1960's Manhattan. Sounds riveting right? You would be surprised.

The creators have done a great job of devising a balance between the false idyllic lifestyle that old white people remember with nostalgia, as well as permeating it with oppressive sexism, racism, and xenophobia in such a casual, honest way that it makes you feel like you're there. It's like watching a 60's movie that's actually self aware. The women have such a tragic view of their lives as nothing more than breeders; you watch them try and trick themselves into thinking they achieved the great Female Dream: Married, Kids, Baubles, Suburbia, Naps. Though I wish they would give a broader spread of characters from different backgrounds (so far it's just cishet white people, 90% men in suits) but I'm thankful they didn't portray the characters as perfect. In fact, they're decidedly less than that. One's a serial cheater, half of them are potential date rapists, and all of them are chauvinistic. 

Is this what watching The Borgias is like? 

I feel like I should be rooting for someone, but they're all, quite frankly, unlovable. It's like, I don't like them, but at the same time, I find myself being sympathetic to them and then I feel distasteful. But I think the dialogue done in this movie is excellent, because it captures the essence of general sadness in corporate business and the hollow meaninglessness of upper middle class 60's life. Like, one of my favorite parts is when the 'main' character Don Draper is talking with his boss about the doom-and-gloom of the new generation:

Boss: I don't know-- Maybe every generation thinks the next one is the end of it all. I bet people in the Bible were walking around complaining about "kids today".

Don: Kids today. They have no one to look up to. Because they're looking up to us. 

I really like that. Like, really really like it. 

Overall? I think Mad Men is really great drama that gets you to care deeply for the characters and champion for some to succeed (like the secretary Peggy) or have hella conflicted feelings for others (like snobby and sexist but more-than-likely clinically depressed Pete). It has great dialogue and plot that, despite its premise, is just as exciting as Orange is the New Black in its own way. And it's just really fun to watch! Mad Men has just the right amount of heavy for me right now, because while I'm still about darker shows for a spell, I need a break from Attack on Titan. And gore in general. And anime, actually. There's just something about real actors that you just need every once and awhile, or at least, that's how it is for me.

Mad Men is like The Office, but with more backstabbing, and no one smiles except when they want something.


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