26 October 2008

Mad world

I started watching Mad Men early in the second season.


I strong-armed the spouse into watching it, too, of course. We were both born in the 1960s, although I was born later than what we've seen thus far. Even so, the show resonates with certain aspects of my childhood, including Peggy's Catholic upbringing (I had to wear a chapel veil to Mass despite the reforms of Vatican II, and when I made my first Communion, we were still dressed up like little brides. Weird!). Tonight I watched the season finale, and all I'll say about it is that choosing to end it with the Cuban missile crisis was just eerie.

I've often wondered exactly how that event shaped those of us born in the dead zone between the Baby Boomers and Generation X. Somehow, it seems to have lodged in our DNA. Nuclear war always seemed to be a given rather than a possibility, a when rather than an if. Then again, the fact that I spent my earliest years in Washington, D.C., and my later childhood and adolescence ringed by Titan missiles might have given me a rather fatalistic viewpoint.

It's interesting that the show evidently has so much influence. While I find myself longing for some of Betty's beautiful outfits (but not the pointy bras or girdles), I am simultaneously appalled by the blatant racism, classism and sexism demonstrated by the characters. Not that we ever see any of that today. Of course.

And divorcees! Both the spouse and I remember the exact names of the one family each of us knew that featured a divorced mother raising children on her own. Both of us remember the hushed conversations of other mothers discussing these single-parent families. And this was 10 years after the events depicted on Mad Men!

What's interesting about the show, too, is the post-World War II selling to the U.S., which predates the end of that century's selling of the U.S. What does this country actually produce any more? There is no more Bethlehem Steel. While American Airlines continues to fight for life, who remembers Eastern Airlines? TWA? Pan Am?

A mad world, indeed.

Go listen to some music: "Mad World" from the album The Hurting by Tears for Fears.

No comments: