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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

should I blog about ‘Mad Men’?

I don’t have a real sense of how many serious Mad Men fans there are here. If I posted some reactions to Mad Men on an episode-by-episode basis, is this something a bunch of people here would be interested in? Is there a cadre of readers here who would like to discuss Mad Men after each new episode airs?

Lemme know what you think…



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maryann buzz | tv buzz
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  • JoshB

    If you blog it, they will come. Sounds like a good way to increase your traffic.

  • You’re an excellent commentator on movies and TV alike. There are a LOT of fans of this show, so if you blog about it I’m sure they’ll come out of the woodwork.

  • Sarah

    Yes.

  • Definitely, yes — I think that’s a great idea. A great way to draw traffic, and to pull lurkers (like me) into the comments section.

    Now, I just have to get that third season finished by Sunday….

  • MissSunshine

    Yes! It is a beautiful and smart series.

  • judy

    Please blog about Mad Men. Yes Yes Yes!!!

  • mortadella

    Sure. I’ll check it out.

  • Vanessa

    I’d be very interested in your reviews of [insights on] Mad Men because of all the gender issues it touches on.

    Of course, I know each series is a big commitment of time and I don’t want it to stop you from blogging Classic Doctor Who, so if it is a choice….

  • Jerry Colvin

    Are you kidding? The answer is YES!

  • Lady Tenar

    I would love, love, love it if you blogged Mad Men! Yes!

  • Kate

    YES PLEASE! A gorgeous show worthy of FlickFilosopher commentary.

  • MIm

    Yes!

  • Lisa

    YES PLEASE!

    may have to start watching it the way you watch Who

  • I am a huge Mad Man fan and I’d love to hear your impressions of the episodes.

  • I’d been following Mad Men. I would read the blogs.

  • Kathryn

    Yes – but you have to promise to start with series 1, for those of us just catching up!

  • Bill

    No. Please blog about The West Wing. Thanks;)

  • markyd

    I’ve never seen this show before, but am curious as to why it’s become such a big deal. Someone want to break it down for me?

  • Patrick

    Yes. Please.

  • I_Sell_Books

    I have no opinion, I’ve never seen it!

  • JoshDM

    Yes, but only if you’ve watched and understood the prior seasons; I don’t want any of the nonsense you pulled with LOST.

    Also I want you blogging about The Walking Dead when it comes out.

  • MaryAnn

    Yes, but only if you’ve watched and understood the prior seasons; I don’t want any of the nonsense you pulled with LOST.

    Please let me know where I should report for the *Mad Men* comprehensive exam, so it can be determined whether I understand the show well enough to write about it.

    Yes – but you have to promise to start with series 1, for those of us just catching up!

    Yikes. Then I’d never get to the new episodes!

    Since there seems to be a consensus that I should blog on *MM,* I will. But it’s unlikely to be as in-depth as what I do for *Doctor Who.* Perhaps if it goes well and you all enjoy it, I will go back and start over from Season 1 in more detail.

    Hopefully, whatever I do now will satisfy JoshDM. This is my only goal in life, after all. :->

  • JoshDM

    Hopefully, whatever I do now will satisfy JoshDM. This is my only goal in life, after all. :->

    Preach it, babe!

  • Lady Tenar

    I never know what to make of you, JoshDM. Either you are deeply in love with Mary Ann and can only express it kindergarten-style or you just have way too much time on your hands…

  • JoshDM

    I never know what to make of you, JoshDM.

    I’m gettin’ attentions from all the ladies now.

    Aww yeah.

    Startin’ my own ad agency.

  • Dymphna

    OMG yay!!!

    Start with the current episodes and see what traffic you get. It’s more fun to start over at the beginning of a series once the series has ended, imho.

    Thanks to you I’ve started watching Life on Mars, btw.

  • Orangutan

    markyd did scribe the following:

    I’ve never seen this show before, but am curious as to why it’s become such a big deal. Someone want to break it down for me?

    The answer is- Christina Hendricks.

    But seriously. It’s an incredible show. The acting is superb, the writing is excellent, the characters are intriguing and there’s just something about it that feels REAL, even though I know that some of the societal aspects of the show are exaggerated a bit. It’s just so fascinating.

    And Christina Hendricks. :)

    On topic! I am torn. On the one hand, I would love to see you blogging this amazing series. On the other, you really do kinda need to know what happened in past seasons to keep up. It’s an ongoing story. And I’m concerned that things will come up, you’ll have no idea what they mean/are referring to, and you’ll end up frustrated with it. :(

    I am going to hope for this: You begin watching it, and blogging it, and an episode or two in, you become so interested and curious that you MUST start from the beginning.

  • MaryAnn

    On the other, you really do kinda need to know what happened in past seasons to keep up. It’s an ongoing story.

    Sorry if I wasn’t clear: I *have* been watching *Mad Men* since the beginning. I just haven’t been writing about it. So I’m completely up to speed on it. But I haven’t *studied* the show, and I’m sure there may be some details I’ll have forgotten.

    But I’m certainly not joining it as a neophyte at Season 4…

  • KarenP

    I’m clearly in the minority camp here. I watched Season One with great hopes due to all the buzz I’d heard and was just not that impressed. But I’d love to read your reviews, if only to see what other people love about the show :-)

  • Orangutan

    Sorry if I wasn’t clear: I *have* been watching *Mad Men* since the beginning. I just haven’t been writing about it. So I’m completely up to speed on it. But I haven’t *studied* the show, and I’m sure there may be some details I’ll have forgotten.

    But I’m certainly not joining it as a neophyte at Season 4…

    Oh, well, in that case, DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT

  • misterb

    I’m a big Mad Men fan, and last season I found that various bloggers really helped me get more out of the show. As a long-time FF fan, I would look here first. But i have to say, the bar is high on MM blogging; it’s a very subtle show, and some bloggers are obsessive about it.

  • JoshDM
    I’ve never seen this show before, but am curious as to why it’s become such a big deal.

    The answer is- Christina Hendricks.

    That’d be two big deals. “Male gazing at” blog subject submission numero uno.

    I recall her being very attractive in Firefly, but she’s even moreso in Mad Men.

    She’s not in it as much as she used to be, but I’m glad this upcoming season with the new office feels like a reset back to status quo. Very glad MAJ owned up to having seen the prior seasons.

  • Lady Tenar

    there’s just something about it that feels REAL, even though I know that some of the societal aspects of the show are exaggerated a bit.

    I wouldn’t be so sure about that. All the people I’ve talked to about it who were around during that era (including my parents, my aunts, and my grandmother) say that it’s pretty true to life. And, while unfortunately I can’t find any to link right now, I know there’s been a few articles about men who worked in the advertising industry in the 50s and 60s and say that it’s not exaggerated one bit.

    It really was that bad. I find it interesting that a lot of people are so resistant to that idea.

  • lunarangel01

    Yay! Please do blog on Mad Men.

  • Orangutan

    It really was that bad. I find it interesting that a lot of people are so resistant to that idea.

    And I’ve read articles that said that people would have been fired on the spot for some of the things they show. And anecdotal evidence from my mother as well. She wasn’t in advertising, but she did work as a secretary in Manhattan.

    This is a case of YMMV, I guess. :) I’ve figured since I first started watching that reality lay somewhere in between. i.e. I’m fairly sure my mother is rose-tinting it, and it wouldn’t surprise me that some aspects were exaggerated.

  • No, you should not blog about Mad Men, MaryAnn. Lynn Lee of the Lylee’s Blog site already does a smashing job of blogging about that series and it seems so un-sisterly and contrary to the spirit of enlightened feminism for you to compete with her in doing that when there are so many other series you could blog about.

    Besides, I would feel silly reading criticism of any TV show set in a time during which most of my older relatives were not only alive but living grown-up lives.

    However, I might feel differently in about a month or two. So perhaps I’m just suffering from a bad case of “having seen too many shows about the 1960s in my lifetime”-itis.

  • Lady Tenar

    I’m fairly sure my mother is rose-tinting it, and it wouldn’t surprise me that some aspects were exaggerated.

    I’m sure it depended on the the particular workplace. I’m sure different work environments were more or less extreme. There were probably places where you would get fired for Sterling Cooper-style antics but I’m sure there were also places you wouldn’t. The point is, there were no laws in place that would actually prevent a lot of that stuff from happening, no legal recourse for a Manhattan secretary if she did find herself in some of those situations. All that stuff was allowed to happen. So it follows that it probably did somewhere. And I have heard that Madison Ave. advertising agencies were particularly notorious.

    Also, only some of the “societal aspects” in question here even have to do with the work environment. To me one of the most shocking and heartbreaking things I’ve seen on that show has been Joan being raped by her fiancee. With no consequences for him or even acknowledgement that that is what he did. And that is completely plausible.

  • Orangutan

    To me one of the most shocking and heartbreaking things I’ve seen on that show has been Joan being raped by her fiancee. With no consequences for him or even acknowledgement that that is what he did. And that is completely plausible.

    Oh God yeah, that was horrible. Horrible to watch and horrible to know just how plausible that is. It came so out of left field too, after hearing from her how wonderful a guy he is and so on. :(

    Perhaps these two posts should have *minor spoiler* tags on them…

    You know, I was thinking about this stuff on my long drive home today. Is it a good sign that people now might find it hard to believe that the relations and dynamics shown on Mad Men were commonplace and accepted? Does it show that we’ve made good progress in the past 40 years?

    Completely unrelated, but for Lady Tenar: The ‘Beauty in the Beast’ idea I got from you a few weeks back evolved into a gender-reversed Beauty & the Beast after a brainstorming session with a couple of my model friends. :)

  • MaryAnn

    Horrible to watch and horrible to know just how plausible that is.

    And horrible to think that probably no one at the time, including Joan and her fiance, would have though of it as rape.

  • Lady Tenar

    Is it a good sign that people now might find it hard to believe that the relations and dynamics shown on Mad Men were commonplace and accepted? Does it show that we’ve made good progress in the past 40 years?

    Honestly, I don’t think so. If anything, the opposite because it shows how much people want to sanitize the (very recent) past and that’s dangerous. Especially since we’ve still got a lot of work to do on the social issues that Mad Men deals with.

    Basically, here are my observations from perusing Mad Men forums for the past couple years: Mad Men attracts a lot of smart, analytical people but it also seems to attract people that are really into fetishizing “traditionalism”–you know the whitewashed cliche of the 50s and early 60s where kids can play outside all day, and dinners were home-cooked and, most of all, “men were allowed to be men.” It’s totally baffling to me to see how many male viewers totally idolize Don Draper as this heroic icon of alpha maleness, when I see him–and I think we’re meant to see him–as a morally complex but deeply damaged, deeply damaging shell of a human being. I hear this show characterized as “nostalgic” all the time, when to me it’s all about exploding a lot of the myths that nostalgia for that period is based on. So this branch of the fanbase doesn’t want to see the dark side of their little fantasy world of martinis and tailored suits. They don’t want to see what “men being men” meant for women, or the oppressive, degrading and sometimes violent consequences that “traditionalism” had for the portion of the population that wasn’t male and white. So they tell themselves that it’s just exaggeration anyway. I’ve even heard guys say that they think the (mostly female) writers of the show have an “anti-male agenda” because they show so many of the male characters in a negative light. Because it’s a lot easier to just dismiss the writers as a bunch of man-haters than it is to face difficult truths about what your romantic ideas of the good ol’ days actually entail. So if anything, I think a lot of people’s incredulity at the social dynamics of Mad Men shows more regression than progress.

    The ‘Beauty in the Beast’ idea I got from you a few weeks back evolved into a gender-reversed Beauty & the Beast after a brainstorming session with a couple of my model friends. :)

    This sounds fascinating but to what “Beauty and the Beast idea” are you referring? I’m interested but I can’t say I quite remember what you’re talking about. :-)

  • Orangutan

    I understand what you’re saying in there, and I’m trying to figure out where I fall in that spectrum. I think I need to sleep on this and think more. I will return tomorrow. :)

    This sounds fascinating but to what “Beauty and the Beast idea” are you referring? I’m interested but I can’t say I quite remember what you’re talking about. :-)

    It was a typo you made, and a passing comment on top of that. I don’t even remember which thread it was in. You’d written ‘Beauty in the Beast’, and I thought that was an interesting concept for a photoshoot and asked if I could use it. :)

  • Lady Tenar

    Ah yes, I do remember that! Damn, I can’t remember that thread that was on either. Now it’s going to bother me…

  • Lady Tenar

    Oh wait, I think it was about those Disney Princess wedding dresses. :-)

  • MaryAnn

    I hear this show characterized as “nostalgic” all the time, when to me it’s all about exploding a lot of the myths that nostalgia for that period is based on.

    Jon Hamm said this amazing thing to *Time* magazine:

    There’s a cordialness that men had when dealing with the opposite sex, even when they were being blatantly sexist. It’s a weird conundrum. But that’s been replaced with men treating women like absolute garbage and not even being polite about it, which is too bad.

    Which I take to mean that he sees that we’ve actually regressed, in that men (some men, at least: not all men) today feel no need to even *pretend* to be polite while treating women like dirt.

    Not that things were better in the 1960s. It’s like: Chivalry was bad and sexist and had to be done away with, but it’s been replaced by something even nastier.

    So nostalgia for the 60s is bizarre and misplaced, but we shouldn’t think some things are much better today, either. They’re just bad in a different way.

  • Mimi

    Big yes. Love the show and would love ff posts about it. Have been loving the Guardian’s blog about it, but season 4 is the first I’ll be watching as it airs (in the US) so presumably I’ll be way ahead of the Guardian blogger.

    On a related note, have we female gazed Jon Hamm yet? I’m just sayin’…

  • Lady Tenar

    Jon Hamm said this amazing thing to *Time* magazine

    Major kudos to John Hamm for acknowledging that misogyny is alive and well today. That’s more than a lot of guys would do. And I agree that there’s a lot of truth in what he says in the sense that it is much more acceptable today to express overt hatred and hostility towards women. Just turn on the TV and watch what passes for comedy (Hey women, make me a sandwich! Take THAT, PC police! Haha!) or watch any of the horrendous Dude Movies that you regularly skewer. Or listen to mainstream rap. I also sometimes find myself wondering if we’ve just traded six of one for half a dozen of another as far as sexism goes but my feminist baby boomer mom said something really interesting to me a while ago when I was pouring out these woes to her. To paraphrase:

    Yes, there was less overt hatred of women when I was growing up. Yes, men were nicer to us. Why not? It’s easy to be nice to someone who is no threat to you.

    And I think she’s got a good point too. It’s true. Why would you want to treat people who have sex with you, fetch your coffee and then disappear from your consciousness altogether like garbage? Why? But if those people start clamoring for the same jobs as you, the same rights and freedoms as you, the same opportunities as you and actually starting to get them, you might start wanting to treat them like garbage. Chivalry was basically a social contract between men and women: You let us run the world and, in return, we’ll tip our hats, refrain from swearing, and pay for your dinner. But then women decided that wasn’t enough for them, they wanted the same things men had and they intended to try to take them and this made, and still makes, a too-large portion of men very, very angry. Now we’re a threat instead of just a pretty decoration.

    So, yeah, we to deal with a constant onslaught of woman hatred in the media while still continuing to fight a lot of half-won (if that) battles that were started 40 years ago. But frankly, I’ll still take these times over those. Because there are a lot of things I can do that I wouldn’t have been able to do then. If my partner rapes me, like Joan’s did, I can press charges against him. He may not be convicted and I’ll probably have to deal with a mountain of victim-blaming bullshit, but at least the laws actually exist under which he can be prosecuted. Likewise I can sue for sexual harassment. And, again, likely not win but the concept actually exists now. I can get a prescription for both control, maybe even from a female doctor, without getting slut-shamed in the process. I can be a 24-year-old single woman with no plans to get married in the near future without everybody thinking I’m a weirdo. (Next step would be for a 34-year-old or a 44-year-old to be able to do the same thing.)

    So I think things really have gotten better since the 60s. They just still really suck.

  • JimKnows

    There are already recaps, an advertising history/opinion blog and one on capturing the tone/feel of the 1960’s . I would be interested in your take on the logic of the dramatic elements. Sometimes, Don seems a lot like J. R. Ewing. The writers build up tension making you think he’s finally going to get his comeuppance and then he is saved by some bizarre plot artifice.

  • JoshDM

    My “favorite” shock scene was the picnic aftermath.

  • Rose

    Yes, I would love to hear your weekly thoughts on Mad Men. It would be the bees knees, with a side dish of heaven and rainbows.

  • Vanessa

    I think she’s got a good point too. It’s true. Why would you want to treat people who have sex with you, fetch your coffee and then disappear from your consciousness altogether like garbage? Why? But if those people start clamoring for the same jobs as you, the same rights and freedoms as you, the same opportunities as you and actually starting to get them, you might start wanting to treat them like garbage

    Ah, my dear–you would enjoy reading “Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women” by Susan Faludi–an oldie (1992) but a goodie.

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