What I Am: Watching, Reading

I know, day late, dollar short. I’m all discombobulated from a sick kid.

Mad Men
Season 1

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t watch a lot of television. I think it takes more organization than I’m capable of lately. You have to be in a certain place at a certain time; you have to know what channel a show is on; and, usually, you have to have watched previous seasons/shows to know what is going on.

But I had been hearing a lot of good things about Mad Men. One of my friends, who also watches Lost, lent me Season 1 on DVD, and I’ve started watching.

And I’m not sure if I’m going to continue.

I like the show a lot, but it troubles me. The acting is superb, everything about the settings is sexy, and the glimpse into an earlier time is facinating — and sometimes repulsive. The show captures the culture of Madison Avenue in the 1960s spot on. And maybe that’s part of the problem.

I’m only up to episode 6 of season 1. Episode 3, the birthday party at the Draper household, was one of the scariest things I have ever seen on television. Something about the suburban housewife culture, the portrayal of Don Draper as a man trapped inside a life he was trying to make for himself. The loneliness and isolation inherent in each character… it’s hard for me to witness.

The lack of a clear protagonist is difficult for me too. Don Draper is intriguing, but I always have a difficult time liking characters who cheat on their spouses; Pete Campbell, while slimy, becomes a little more sympathetic after we meet his parents, and his wife is a piece of work; the women are caricatures and difficult for me to empathize with. I’m not sure who I should be cheering for — if I should be cheering for anyone.

So, fans of Mad Men, talk me into continuing to watch the show. Should I just appreciate how well-done it is? As the show goes on, do we learn more about these characters that makes them more sympathetic — or less? Why do you watch it?



Also, I’ve been linking to this post from the artist formerly known as Pitt Girl (and now known by her real name, Ginny) all over the place. Please go read it. It’s so refreshing to read something that basically says: Pittsburgh, stop apologizing! You rock. (There’s a little bit in there about some G-20 thingie, too.)