Friday, February 5, 2010

Mad Women

I finally got around to watching Mad Men on BBC iplayer: The critically-acclaimed American television drama about America in the early 1960s, as seen through lives of the men and women working for an advertising agency in New York. It recently entered its fourth successful season.

As I saw the first three episodes online, I found myself wondering that shouldn’t the show really be called Mad Women? Of course, most of the big-shots at the firm are chain-smoking, chain-philandering sexist men. But it is the women behind them – the wives and secretaries – who are all raging schizophrenic.

Think about it. Yes, they are all extremely ambitious. But all their ambitions must play-out through their husbands’ careers. Yes, they are meek around their husbands and bosses. But they are so passive aggressive. Yes, many have jobs. But none – except one, Peggy Olsen – have careers. Yes, they run immaculate households. But they must pretend that their husbands take the call on important decisions. They are beautiful, smart, intelligent, and opinionated. But they never question their role as the supporting cast in the ups and downs of their husbands' lifestory.

Just watching the show made me feel suffocated. Ambitious or not, meek or not, good housekeepers or not: at least, we are free from pretentions today. So fine, I may have my quibbles with feminist literature, but thank god the movement took place when it did.

Another reason for watching the show is the gorgeous period detailing - especially the office. The wood panelling, the colours of the upholstery, the clean modernist lines of the furniture and the abstract paintings on the wall - they were such elegant times. And how beautifully everyone dressed up. No one was trying to rebel against their own goodlooks. The show's worth a peek just for that. The last three episodes of Mad Men can be watched here.

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