(aka: What the hell am I gonna do with my life now? Overanalyze Game of Thrones? Yeah, right. Okay, whatever.)
So that took a few days to digest. I’ve been drinking heavily ever since. I’m glad Monday was a holiday here in Canada.
Naturally, I’ve been pouring over reviews of the finale, unable to really let it go. It’s been a bitch of a hangover. I still have the Coke jingle in my head.
Continue reading “On the End of Mad Men”
Also, he was crowned emperor in (the original) York, on the same spot where York Minster (actually a cathedral) now stands. The more you know.
Perhaps it is rather ironic that the AMC website uses cocktail recipes to market Mad Men, because, when viewed correctly, Mad Men is about the devastating effects of a life lived for alcohol.
But it’s subtle, as addiction often is at first. I never noticed it as much on the first viewing. The sheer normalisation of wanton alcohol consumption on Matthew Weiner’s Madison Avenue is what strikes you first. “I’d love to have a bar in my office,” you think. It seems so glamorous and Romantic. These are the kind of people who tip back half a bottle of Canadian Club then smash a glass in a fireplace and make love to Elizabeth Taylor.
But on the second viewing, it takes on a different colour. The fates of Freddy Rumsen and Duck Phillips (the former losing his job after drunkenly wetting his pants and the latter fallen so far from the wagon as to get kicked out of the Clios) are far less humorous when you watch it again. These are two men whose personal and professional lives were ruined by alcohol but are so carelessly brushed aside by those who can still conceal their disease.
Continue reading “Mad Men is the Story of an Addict”
I began to like New York, the racy, adventurous feel of it at night and the satisfaction that the constant flicker of men and women and machines gives to the restless eye. I like to walk up Fifth Avenue and pick out romantic women from the crowd and imagine that in a few minutes I was going to enter their lives, and no one would ever know or disapprove. Sometimes, in my mind, I followed them to their apartments on the corners of hidden streets, and they turned and smiled back at me before they faded through a door into warm darkness. At the enchanted metropolitan twilight I felt a haunting loneliness sometimes, and felt it in others—poor young clerks who loitered in front of windows waiting until it was time for a solitary restaurant dinner—young clerks in the dusk, wasting the most poignant moments of night and life.
– F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1924)
Don Draper’s New York City is Nick Carraway’s New York City (not Jay Gatsby’s… that would be too obvious).
(Presented as a companion piece to this.)
This is the California where it is possible to live and die without ever eating an artichoke, without ever meeting a Catholic or a Jew. This is the California where it is easy to Dial-A-Devotion, but hard to buy a book. This is the country in which a belief in the literal interpretation of Genesis has slipped imperceptibly into a belief in the literal interpretation of Double Indemnity, the country of the teased hair and the Capris and the girls for whom all life’s promise comes down to a waltz-length white wedding dress and the birth of a Kimberly or a Sherry or a Debbi and a Tijuana divorce and return to hairdressers’ school. “We were just crazy kids” they say without regret, and look to the future. The future always looks good in the golden land, because no one remembers the past.
Joan Didion, Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream, 1966
Don Draper’s California is Joan Didion’s California.
I once heard someone describe Mad Men as the television equivalent of the “Great American Novel.” The “Great American Novel,” as a descriptor, carries with it sense of formality and scope. By definition, it is… well, defining.
What does it mean, then, when something like Mad Men has a far more expansive impact on the cultural landscape than your average contemporary novel? Are we really in, as some critics might claim, a golden age of television? Or does television just reach a broader audience than literature?
Continue reading “Are television shows the new novel?”