"Mad Men" season 4 premiere
The world of Mad Men is a horrible place--and yet it makes for compelling television. I was born into that world, just a few weeks after JFK was assassinated, and I *cannot* imagine how restrictive it must have felt, to live in those times.
In the show, Betty Draper has divorced her husband, Don, to marry Henry Francis. Henry's mother does not approve: "She's a silly woman. Honestly, Henry, I don't know how you can stand living in that man's dirt." I physically flinched when I heard that line. My mother was divorced, a few years after this was supposed to have taken place. I wonder how many comments like that were aimed her direction.
...and yet, my mother lived through it, and survived, and raised two children. The women and men in MM seem to find ways of coping. Life always sloshes over and past and around the boundaries we humans (attempt to) place around it. Like all good art, Mad Men relates the human struggle to get our needs--and desires--met, and how we evolve, almost in spite of ourselves, in the process.
See more about Matthew Weiner's Mad Men at the Slate.com TV club and another discussion (including a nice debate about the show's gender dynamics) at the Wall Street Journal's MM blog
In the WSJ blog, Evangeline Morphos compares MM to Harry Potter: "Harry Potter stories presented kids with a truth they had always known—the world has mean kids in it and can be a very dangerous place. Harry Potter proved that you can come of age, even in difficult times." MM may show how we--males, females, blacks, whites, homosexuals, heterosexuals, amputees and temporarily able-bodied persons--must evolve through whatever contemporary mess we inhabit.