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Mad Men - I just don't get it. 
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Post Mad Men - I just don't get it.
The series has received great reviews, so I'm perplexed. How can a book, movie or television show filled with almost all despicable, selfish people win over so many critics?

(The only sympathetic character, I find, is Betty Draper.)

IMHO something is out of joint.

I believe all literature should center on a hero who struggles to overcome his or her defects, and to then do some good and, therefore, inspire others.

That's my two cents,

Randy


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Post Re: Mad Men - I just don't get it.
Randy Kadish wrote:
The series has received great reviews, so I'm perplexed. How can a book, movie or television show filled with almost all despicable, selfish people win over so many critics?

(The only sympathetic character, I find, is Betty Draper.)

IMHO something is out of joint.

I believe all literature should center on a hero who struggles to overcome his or her defects, and to then do some good and, therefore, inspire others.

That's my two cents,

Randy

Thanks, Randy. I'm interested in your point of view on this show. I've been watching it with my wife on dvd and am fascinated with it. When you say the characters are despicable, I react with surprise but then reflect that you might be largely right. I guess I just find the show to be dramatically so successful that I don't mind that the characters aren't very virtuous. Most of the characters, I find, aren't "bad' but venal and conformist. They seem to hold some promise of actually being good at some point, so that is a bit intriguing. I admire the plucky Peggy, though I just watched her abandon the baby she didn't even know was inside her! And I think the fact that the show concerns a period of history that is just at the border of my consciousness (I was born in '52) gives it an intrinsic interest. The show's creators have done a superb job of recreating the physical environment of 1960 and a lot of the ethos as well. It's too bad that the actors on the show seem destined to get lung cancer. Never seen so much smoking.



Sun Jan 10, 2010 11:54 am
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Post Re: Mad Men - I just don't get it.
Randy Kadish wrote:
I believe all literature should center on a hero who struggles to overcome his or her defects, and to then do some good and, therefore, inspire others.

That's my two cents,


That's an interesting perspective, Randy. I haven't watched Mad Men, so I can't say anything about it, but I wonder what you make of the notion of the "antihero" -- a protagonist who does not exhibit heroic qualities, but whose story might be seen as a cautionary tale or in some way explores the boundaries of convention. Examples might be Peer Gynt, Dorian Gray, or Dr. Jekyll.

Tom


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Last edited by tbarron on Sun Jan 10, 2010 7:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sun Jan 10, 2010 7:05 pm
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Post Re: Mad Men - I just don't get it.
Thats an interesting thought Randi, however, that does exist in our typical lives.

I believe the show tries to shadow Ad-Execs everyday life in the early sixties.



Sun Jan 10, 2010 10:33 pm
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Post Re: Mad Men - I just don't get it.
I don't believe the show mirrors everyday life in the advertising world. I've had a lot of contact with top ad men and women. Many are decent people who love their work, who believe that advertising helps people buy products that solve problems.

I never got a sense that the ad people on Mad Men had any love for helping people.

Randy.


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Post Re: Mad Men - I just don't get it.
Is what we see with the show, and with many other recent series that receive acclaim, a kind of anti-idealization, the opposite of the idealized models of earlier eras of TV? Our age appears to prefer the warts-and-all style, or maybe just the warts. So I'm not surprised to hear you object to the portrayal of these advertising people as lacking balance. I don't see them all as being despicable, as you do, but I agree that the show's writers lean heavily toward noir and away from explicit messages of redeeming value. Whether it works as fiction in creating a self-consistent world of environment and character--regardless of its strict accuracy to our life experienced daily--might be the key thing. The show works in that sense for me.



Mon Jan 11, 2010 1:36 pm
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Post Re: Mad Men - I just don't get it.
I guess Mad Men is a sign of the times, and sign that pervades so much of our art and literature.

I watched Seinfield for a season. At first I liked it. I found it so original, and I live on the Upper Westside, but soon I grew tired of the characters. None of them seemed the slightest bit noble - for lack of a better word - in any way; and yet the show was a huge hit, so I'm certainly in the minority.

Where are characters who struggle against obstacles, some internal, and then do good?

I guess I read a lot of history - like Longitude, for example - and watch animated movies, like Up, to find those characters.

If there is no striving to rise above failures and setbacks and to do good, what is the purpose of human existence? And what is the purpose of literature that therefore darkens instead of enlightens our existence?

My two cents.


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