I’m Shelby and welcome to my first AreaVoices Dandy Distractions blog post. As you can see in my “About” tab on the right, I’m all about movies, music, books, and TV, so I decided to write a blog dedicated to reviewing and being real. Let’s be honest, those reviews that drop big vocabulary like it’s nothing and critique seemingly abstract filming aspects that a layperson would know nothing about aren’t any fun to read unless you were a film major in college. I want my reviews to feel like talking to your friend. Don’t be afraid of leaving comments on your thoughts too! Without further ado, my first review is on the TV series (and popular Netflix marathon-ing option) Mad Men.
I started this series late on Netflix and binge watched with my boyfriend every chance we got. We finished six and a half seasons in just a few short months and annoyingly, the last half of the last season wasn’t on Netflix yet as it had just aired its finale on real time TV. We waited awhile and I bought the last half of the last season on DVD on Black Friday this year. We finished the last seven episodes in about three sittings.
I hated the storyline at first; men (and only men) in advertising in the early 1960s were getting away with anything and everything because they had status, wealth, and power. A few characters seemed promising, but most seemed like horrible people in what they did and how they did it. Seeing this storyline that seemed to glorify the age when men could do whatever and women were only in the working world to be looked at as playthings or to do the busy secretary work kind of made me shy away from wanting to continue the series; even if I do like shows where bad guys are the main characters (Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad anyone?), this just seemed over the top for the message they seemed to be trying to put across. Alas, I was sucked in because it was true to the time the show was based on. The clothes! The music! The props and backdrop visuals! It was all so 60s and I wanted to see more. And then the women in the series came in with a bang and I was hooked.
The character Peggy Olson is such a badass throughout this entire series. She is who girls everywhere should look up to. She can have it all, just like a man can. At the beginning of the series, Peggy is fresh out of school and gets herself a job as a secretary. After a few personal and professional mistakes, she catches the eye of those in positions higher than hers after voicing her opinion on a specific job and becomes a copywriter for the elite Sterling Cooper advertising company. As soon as Peggy’s character was exposed more in the following episodes from that first episode, I could see that the show wasn’t completely promoting sexism because Peggy was persevering. Elisabeth Moss was incredible in this role and I can’t believe she never won an Emmy for it.
Another character I loved was Joan Harris. Even though time and time again Joan is belittled by the men that surround her in the office, she has no problem using her intelligence and wit to get ahead in the dog eat dog world that is advertising in the 1960s. Also her makeup was always on point. Christina Hendricks is wonderful at expressing emotion without words and she made a phenomenal Joan.
Hats off to Jon Hamm who has a distinct voice and commanding presence every scene he takes part in (which is basically every other one). I hated (like really hated) Don Draper as a character, but it takes a good writer to pull off that kind of hate and a good actor to pull off being such an unlikeable person. Don Draper to his core was internally always a 15 year old boy. He was smart, followed his instincts, and was charismatic, but nonetheless made some massive mistakes in life because he didn’t really think about consequences.
The series partakes in themes including success, love, happiness, hard work, loss, and coming of age. Each character seems to really bring something different to the show and even though a lot of them made what I thought were morally bad decisions, the writers wrote scenes that showed why they made those decisions and where that thought process came from, which I found extremely compelling. Any story, whether it’s a TV show, a movie, a book, etc. can be a good story as long as it has well developed characters.
The show was another impressive product of the AMC channel, which gave us shows like Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. Can AMC keep going with the hit shows? What did you all think of the TV series? Did you binge watch on Netflix like me? Or were you a loyal follower from the start? Comment away!
Happy holidays lovelies!