Mad Men shows slice of ’60s life

I just discovered Mad Men.

No, it's not the name of my golfing buddies or a group of disillusioned journalists.

January Jones and her cigarettes star in Mad Men.
January Jones and her cigarettes star in Mad Men.

It's a television series on AMC. I mention AMC because it has been daring enough to introduce shows like The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad and The Killing.

AMC is cutting edge, enthusiastic and challenging.

And even though Mad Men has been around since 2007, I thought it was a tepid period piece about advertising in the 1960s, which it is, but so much more.

It follows the lives of the men and women of Madison Avenue advertising. They behave badly and live without any kind of moral boundary. It's a man's world where they sleep around, have Bourbon with breakfast, and use, abuse and excuse the female staff.

The term chauvinistic hardly scratches the surface of this one-sided way of life. And the ironic thing is that the women are the only ones who seem to be apologizing.

But one of the most telling aspects of this show is how society has changed. Besides the drinking, drinking and driving, and more drinking, everyone chain smokes. In one episode, one of the pre-programmed housewives doesn't let her pregnancy get in the way of Lucky Strikes and a highball.

In another scene, a mother scolds her child for running around the house with a plastic dry cleaning bag over her head. But the little girl gets in trouble because somewhere upstairs is a skirt on the floor fresh from the cleaners. God forbid, mom worries about her daughter potentially suffocating.

Children also jump from the front seat to the back seat of the family car while mom fiddles with the radio, oblivious to the fact that the children could…well… die.

These are broken people, living in a broken time.

When we look back at the '60s, words like innocence and new beginnings come to mind. It was also a time of self-indulgence, the me-generation, and Baby Boomers. They knew it, lived it and didn't give a damn who they hurt. But, it was also a time of changing family values and a real fear for the future.

Mad Men reminds us how far we have come and how far we still have to go.

 

 

 

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