Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mad Men - The Ladies

Hello Kittens!

Show of hands - who is obsessed with Mad Men?  (My hand is raised)  Now keep your hand up if you have been obsessed with this show for years.  (My hand's still up)  If you've had a love affair with Mad Men from the second you started watching it, we have much in common and my raised hand is wriggling its fingers in your direction!

photo credit

I'm surprised that it's taken me until the fourth week of this new season for me to post about Mad Men, but as I mentioned when I posted about Bates Motel, my TV was on the fritz and I was thankfully able to catch up On Demand once it was back up and running.  As of last night, I'm caught up except for the most recent episode.  I was going to wait until I was completely caught up and talk about the season thus far, but I started writing this post as a draft and it simply decided to let it go in whatever direction it wanted.  And that direction was...the ladies of this fabulous show!

This first season of Mad Men was set in 1960 and the story has spanned almost an entire decade.  The Season 6 premiere began at the very end of 1967 and included the 1968 New Year celebrations; I thought it was brilliant to time the new season with a new year!  Another aspect of the show that I find brilliant is the fashion and decor - they've been absolutely fabulous from the get-go!  Janie Bryant, the costume designer is absolutely amazing and I would LOVE for her to live with me and dress me like Joan every day, though I'm positive I'm not alone in that.  Bryant has designed two Mad Men inspired collections for Banana Republic, one in 2011 and one earlier in 2013.  Though we've seen the styles evolve (something that is very apparent when you compare the two collections), the look of the show remains so authentic that there is nothing that even comes close to looking costumey.  That is something which is such a problem when people try to adopt a vintage look.  Aside from the women of Mad Men, only Dita Von Teese can really pull that look off.

photo credit
The dapper gentlemen of Mad Men?  Well, they're incredibly handsome, but the women of this show are just phenomenal, both in their styles and their characters.  It's rare to see what the women of this period actually dealt with - and perhaps this show influenced The Vintage Project more than I truly realized.  Joan in particular.  Joan is my favorite!  While Betty appeared to be channelling Grace Kelly when she was married to Don, she didn't have much else to offer.  Here we saw a little girl in a woman's body; she was selfish and self-absorbed which made her a bad wife, a bad mother, and simply a bad person.  I don't, in any way condone Don's infidelity, but I don't think I was alone when I didn't really judge him too harshly for it.

Peggy was the opposite.  While she was very young at the beginning of the series, she was mature and smart, and represented the women that got in and played with the boys, paving the way for other women to be taken seriously and get ahead in, not only a very chauvinistic time, but a very chauvinistic business.  Peggy has definitely made mistakes, but it is a testament to her talent and her work ethic that Don respects her as much as he does.  What I'm loving is that she has very much come into her own and in many ways, has become the Don of her new agency.  I thought it was amazing to hear Don's words come out of Peggy's mouth at the Heinz meeting.  "If you don't like what they're saying, change the conversation."  I loved hearing that!  Though Don did not share my enthusiasm.

Finally, the strongest woman of the bunch.  While Joan is STUNNING, she's also incredibly intelligent and capable.  She knows how women are seen and 'their place', and while she plays the game only as much as she has to, she runs the day-to-day operations of the agency.  This is a woman strong enough to kick her husband out when he's not treating her the way she deserves, and raise a child on her own.  And she does this all while being classy and fabulous!  Of all the women that we've seen on this show, aside from Anna (the REAL Mrs. Draper who Don took care of for years despite not having any responsibility to do so), he does not respect or treat any woman as well as he does Joan.  And while there will always be chemistry and history with Roger, there is a special interaction between her and Don.  She supports him while putting him in his place when he needs it, and I've always loved the 'will-they, won't-they' aspect to their relationship.  As with Peggy, Don is very protective of Joan, which endears Don to me in a very poignant way.

photo credit

I should probably cover Megan as well, but I'm really not interested in doing that.  I see her relevance, but personally, I find her rather uninteresting.  Perhaps it's just that I'm not nearly as attached or invested in her as I am the other women (alright, maybe not Betty, but it's kind of fun never knowing the insane things that she's going to do or say...do we remember the conversation with Henry in bed during the season premiere?!?!?).  Though I will say that Megan has been far more interesting in the first few episodes of this season that she's been in previous seasons...

While the ladies are definitely not the focus of Mad Men, they have come to represent a very important part of the show as it has progressed.  Yes, the agency is overflowing with testosterone and machismo and the women are still objectified, but we've witnessed them come a long way in the last eight years.  When you compare how the women of Sterling Cooper were treated in the first season with how the women on the show as a whole are being treated in season six, it's impossible not to see how different things are - not only at the agency, but also outside of it.  The 1960's were a very important time for women's progress and I feel like we can see that in this show.  By 1968, Joan and Peggy kick ass at work and are completely independent, Megan is making a name for herself independently of Don, and Betty....well, Betty's still a train wreck, so nothing has changed there.

For a more in depth look at our Ladies, The Guardian ran a great article before the Season 6 Premiere which you can read here. Using historical points of reference, this article guarantees that we will see these ladies make huge strides in the remaining time we have with this show and I'm definitely looking forward to it!!

What do you think Kittens?  Are you as enamoured with these fabulous ladies, their wardrobes, and what's to come as I am??

No comments:

Post a Comment