Saturday, July 18, 2009

MAD MEN (and women)

I waiting with great anticipation the second season of this highly acclaimed show. I started watching it on DVD because I never seemed to be able to catch it when it was being aired and became all to easily spoiled by being able to enjoy the entire first season in an evening. The show is something of a dramatic commentary about the 1960’s, highlighting American society and culture during that time. Some might think of that as a simpler time – before JFK and Martin Luther King were shot, before the US really became involved in the Vietnam War, before Civil Rights became a real hot-button issue. Men and women had pretty clearly defined roles and it seems that all was right with the world. But upon close examination of the show, which is of course a dramatic portrayal, one sees that it was merely a house of cards just waiting for the wind to knock it over.

I have two characters I identify with, Peggy Olsen and Betty Draper. I see Peggy as the girl trying to break into the boys club, trying to do more than get her “MRS” and advancing her career. She is still finding her voice in this season but is learning that to be taken seriously, she is going to have to learn to play with the boys at their games, outsmart them without them really knowing it. Betty on the other hand is the dutiful wife and mother trying to live up to everyone’s expectations, including her own. She is unsure of her exact place in her husband’s world but knows what is expected of her. She is beautiful but profoundly sad and it this conflict within that makes her an interesting character. I see myself as both of these women as I have spent my adult life trying to break into that boys club but at the same time, trying to live up to some expectation of perfect wife and mother. Of course this is nothing new. This is one of oldest conflicts in the book so to speak. It is the constant battle women have been having since being “liberated” and has been waged in every office and home across America. Ladies, be careful what you wish for.

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