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.)

5 thoughts on “What I Am: Watching, Reading

  1. I love Mad Men. Pete Campbell is repulsive and only becomes moreso. I always root against him. Don also has major character flaws. I don’t root against him, but I don’t root for him.

    Reasons to watch:
    1. Although she only starts to emerge more strongly near the end of Season 1, the character you will likely root for is Peggy Olson. She is the only innocent, and her story line has some exciting highs as well as heartbreaking lows. She’s also magnificently portrayed. Elizabeth Moss should earn at least one Emmy by the time the series is over.

    2. Attention to detail, aka kitsch porn. Many articles have been written about the costume, set, and properties designs for the show. Combining strong design aesthetics and authenticities makes the show gorgeous.

    3. It is maddening. Sure you may not like most of these characters, but I find myself needing to see how they will react to the many twists and turns of their interwoven story lines. I’m often emotionally spent at the end of the show, but like a rollercoaster, I appreciate a show powerful enough to create that sort of response in me.

    4. Yes, it is well done. Well acted, well written, well designed. I can’t say that’s the only reason to watch the show. (I acknowledge that The Wire also had those qualities, but the show itself never appealled to me.) However, it is nice to see that there is good TV being made in a world dominated by exploitative pseudo-reality garbage.

    • I have been cautiously optimistic about Peggy. Ep6 is the one where she is tapped to write copy, and you can tell she is simply ecstatic about it.

      And it’s not as if I’m not up for challenging TV. You should see me (and DearDR) at the end of a Lost episode. We’re practically tearing our hair out.

      All right. I’ll soldier on to the end of the season.



  2. I LOVE MAD MEN too! It is the only show I regularly watch (thanks to DVR!)…and I have been hooked since the first episode. It is so slick and so well written…I am seriously sad when the episode is over…sometimes I’ll watch it over again right away, just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. geez kinda sick, isn’t it?

    Don has his flaws…they all do…that’s what I love about it. Even Peggy…she is the innocent, but she has her struggles, too. And I love Joan…she is amazing. Smarter than all of the men put together!

    I love how well the period is portrayed…and it is disturbing, I keep thinking, did people really do that?
    I agree with Kim…cannot stand Pete. Soooooo tired of his whining. But keep watching!

    btw, I just finished Wally Lamb, The Hour I First Believed…really liked it. So sad, though!

    • Now that I am 7 episodes in, I wish I had more  time to watch it. But I continue to slowly make my way through season 1. It is fascinating, without a doubt.

      About the Wally Lamb novel: I know, very sad. The only thing I could think as I was reading it was: “Well, since this is Wally Lamb, I know it won’t exactly be a happy ending.” I cried for about a 1/2 hour after I finished it.

      Hope all is well!

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