That’s Entertainment

I don’t give myself permission to sit and watch video that often, either movies or TV shows.  It’s not that I begrudge the time in front of a screen - I spend countless hours in front of my laptop, an appalling paucity of them billable.  It’s just that I can’t contemplate premeditated commitment, while serendipitous careening around the ‘net is somehow “off the books”.

And TV series are worse than movies, because while each episode is shorter than a film, I’m usually watching entire seasons of any particular TV series.  I did this with 30 Rock, and Weeds.  And then there’s Mad Men.  The series has appealed to me viscerally as well as aesthetically.  I suppose a good part of that visceral appeal is nostalgia, as the series is set during my formative years.  I’d be about 4 years older than Sally, the oldest Draper child.

It’s not directly evocative of my milieu; I grew up in the stalwart midwest, and my family toiled in orbit around the Detroit-centered auto industry, not the comparatively glib sophistication of New York City.  However, the adroit placement of objects (dial telephones, e.g.) and cultural references (racial attitudes, political issues) pings my memory continually, almost as if I were undergoing brain surgery and an electrode was traversing my 60s lobes like NASA’s Martian go-kart.

The business of the ad agency is crassly manipulative, but I find it neither shocking nor necessarily off-putting.  Who didn’t know, even then, that advertising was designed to get you to buy stuff?  Rather, there’s an almost charming innocence to their endeavors, even the darker aspects like cigarette advertising, especially when compared to the sophistication and granularity we see today in the right-hand panel of Facebook.  What they are actually doing at Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Price is akin to chemistry experiments using 60s popular culture as a Periodic Table, and I find it a pleasant interlude to inhale the fumes from their beakers.

One Comment

  1. Mad Men is quite an interesting TV show. The idea of contextualizing a series in that particular decade was brilliant. We started watching the series rather late, so have the first four seasons to catch up on. Really looking forward to it. I grew up in NJ. Some of my neighbors commuted to NYC everyday to jobs at advertising firms like this. I love remembering the era and watching it written and replayed by someone who didn’t actually live it.

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