Mad for the Women Behind the Men of Mad Men!

7 08 2009

madmen backstory Wall Street Journal Aug 7 2009

Favorite Daughter and I love everything about this show. At the end of WSJ’s feature on the woman-dominated writing team, I was struck by this trilateral approach to the meaning of life: the story of our lives isn’t so much simply public versus private life, but also “private” life distinct from “secret” life. And a compelling character’s story involves all three so that the conflict that rings truest is mainly within one person between his or her three different lives. (Sort of why fairy tale wishes come in threes and Freud saw id, ego and superego? Why Eve won the academy award for Three Faces in 1957, not just two?)

The ‘Mad Men’ Back Story

To craft story lines and develop characters, the writers track three categories: each character’s work, private and secret lives. . .

Even if your own private and/or secret lives haven’t discovered the guilty pleasure of Mad Men yet, you can play this “intelligent design” game and let us see whichever parts of your life projected into that world you want, as “a suit or a skirt.”

Madmen Yourself

I made a JJ but couldn’t figure out the download-to-blog trick.

UPDATE – see also On Mad Men: Drama Confronts a Dramatic Decade

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5 responses

8 08 2009
Crimson Wife

Seems like everybody I know absolutely loves this show but I can’t stand it because I feel it glorifies adultery. The clothes are fabulous, though!

8 08 2009
JJ

Interesting, I hadn’t thought of it as glorifying anything, not only not adultery, but not all the drinking and smoking either, not even the clothes! Nobody’s happy. In fact, they all seem lost and desperate to me, each in his or her little hell of insecurity as change is everywhere, both thrilling and terrifying. Isn’t that a very moral story?

And a lot like “now” which may explain why people are mad for it:

“We live in a culture where people can transform themselves,” Mr. Weiner said. . .

In the new season we see this ultimate self-made man of midcentury America — outwardly confident but hollow at the core — smacked, like the culture he embodies, by the earthquake of the ’60s. “I started off writing the show as a scathing analysis of what happened to the United States,” Mr. Weiner said. “But the more I got into Don, the more I realized this is an amazing place. Something really did change in those years” — the late ’50s and early ’60s. “What would it be like to go to that place?”

He continued: “I’m interested in how people respond to change. Are they excited by the change, or are they terrified that they’ll lose everything that they know? Do people recognize that change is going on? That’s what the show’s about.”

8 08 2009
Nance Confer

Acknowledging that it happens isn’t glorifying it.

It vaguely reminds me of the “Short History of Women” I am reading now.

It jumps around a family tree, from the Mom who was a suffragette to the current-day Wall Street daughter. I haven’t finished yet but none of them have been too happy — so far it’s all been fighting for freedoms we take for granted now and barely surviving.

Nance

24 09 2009
JJ

Culture Kitchen’s Liza Sabater is blogging for The Root now too. (Kudos!)

She used the little design game I linked in the original post to do a Mad Men version of Oprah as culture-of-race commentary.

6 09 2010
JJ

More Mad Men, this time from across the pond:

“What we really see in the fourth season is with the rise of youth culture, how difficult it is for somebody of Don’s cohort to stay in touch and stay relevant.”

Whereas in the first couple of seasons the mohair-suited slicks of the ad agencies were at the centre of a bright and exciting world. Now, more important things keep happening just in their peripheral vision.

“It’s no longer their moment,” says Ms Vargas-Cooper. “[It was a time] when culture and popular culture was made largely by and for adults. Young people take over and they haven’t let go since.”

One of the talking points around Mad Men has always been its handling of sexism. This is the era of pioneering feminist Betty Friedan and the three main characters – Peggy, Joan and Betty – all have battles to fight.

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