Tuesday, September 21, 2010

MM@M: "The Beautiful Girls"

This week's episode of Mad Men "The Beautiful Girls" contained no movie references -- unless you count Faye calling Don "Mr Bond" (we think we heard that?) when he pried too much into her business with other ad agencies -- and a few celebrity name-droppings in a pitch meeting. What we did get is a lot of forward movement on Mad Men's quest to illustrate the 60s itself as a character. Vietnam is starting to scare these familiar faces and the burgeoning civil rights movement is starting to interfere with their perceptions of self.


Beautiful Girls: Joan, Peggy and Faye (Betty not pictured)

Mad Men probably won't win any new fans with that bad neighborhood mugging scene, since they've already been criticized in some quarters for the (mostly) all-white cast. But Mad Men's focus has always been a very specific type of people, ad men in midtown, and the show is doing a beautiful job of reflecting how people actually deal with change. I love Peggy's initial dismissal when confronted with racism "I'm not a political person!" and the way this bled into her own ideas about sexism and then to actual guilt about her culpability in working for racist organizations. This strikes me as an honest and realistic depiction of the way that people actually deal with change. Usually people respond to things based on how and when they affect them or their loved ones personally or they put off dealing with it at all until the social tide swings far enough towards a new way of thinking that they have no choice but to either jump on board or refuse the tide of progress and become ultra conservative. You can see this in the way straight people deal with the gay rights movements and you can see this in how native citizens deal with immigration issues in their own country, wherever that country may be.

Hopefully Mad Men will give us a movie to discuss soon... but this season is just on fire.

Further reading for Mad Men fanatics:
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9 comments:

BeRightBack said...

I think Tom and Lorenzo's analyses of the costumes in Mad Men are unique and fascinating.

They call the series "Mad Style":

http://projectrungay.blogspot.com/search/label/Mad%20Style?max-results=18

Deborah said...

Plenty of pop culture!

Faye called Don Mr. Bond. Stan Rizzo called Megan Yvette Mimieaux. The jingle meeting mentioned a bunch of singers, including Harry Belafonte, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Perry Como, and Duane Eddy (I'm leaving out a couple).

NATHANIEL R said...

Deborah -- yikes. I missed that. it was so much easier to do this series on DVD;)

Timothy said...

The last scenes with Don surrounded by all the women in his life and the three ladies in the elevator were supposedly inspired by Fellini's work. So that's a movie reference for you (I've seen no Fellini film, so I wouldn't know offhand if that's true or not, but it sounds like they're getting at "8 1/2"). The show is so rich already though, it doesn't need to be shoehorned in those narrow terms to have meaningful discussions about the episodes.

NATHANIEL R said...

Timothy -- well, i know that but since it's a movie blog i need an excuse :)

NATHANIEL R said...

also i provided something meaty to chat about but so far no one is talking.

Liolia said...

What I love the most about these series is how truthful it is to its decade, as well as to the movies and tv shows of the 60's. Yes, they're all white, but that's how it really was on the 60's, and if there was someone from another race, it was doing something to serve the white folks. Yes, women's role are of less importance than men's, but that's how it really was. I believe that one of the biggest achievements of this serie is presenting a social context so strange for our modern times, but at the same time, so truthful. Really, I love all the historic and movie references. I love that it also goes with that slow pace 1960's movies had.

Haven't seen this episode, though, just started a few months ago, and I'm at the middle of season 3. Can't wait to finish catching up!

cheerio!

badmofo said...

As a black guy™, I must admit that I didn't find the "neighborhood" scene offensive at all. Who else was gonna rob 'em, the Pink Panther? Maybe I missed something. All I'm saying is: Not every negative depiction of a minority is racist. Sometimes, it's just reality. And though I certainly wouldn't mind seeing a more diverse cast come into the fold -- as history would suggest --, I have to credit the writers (and actors) for not reducing the few African-American characters we do have on the show (Carla, Hollis, Kinsey's girlfriend) to stereotypes.

NATHANIEL R said...

badmofo -- i was only saying that because some of the criticisms i've read of the show have seemed to REALLY miss the point of who the show is looking at and why. and some websites have been counting the number of black characters that show up. So i figured those same critics would object that we see a black character commit a crime on screen.

i do agree that for their very limited screentime Carla and Hollis and Kinsey's girlfriend (i've forgotten her name) all have had interesting moments to play.