Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mad Men vs. Mr. Moms

OK, this is kind of funny: Hey, Mr. Mom: Your Wife Wants To Bang Don Draper. (And here's the funniest reader comment: "I think you're preachin' to the converted, dude. Mr. Mom wants to fuck Don Draper, too.") C'mon. Laugh. You know it's funny.

I just started watching Mad Men, largely on the recommendation of my pal Jessica (who is getting married this weekend! yay!).

The writing and characters are gripping, but Mad Men is also a fascinating sociological and historical study of womanhood, manhood, and gender roles at a dramatic point of transition.

It made me think right away of Susan Faludi’s 1999 book Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man--in fact, the parallels between the POV of both the series and Faludi’s book makes me think that Stiffed must be required reading for Mad Men’s writers.

In both, traditional masculine values like self-reliance, steadfastness, and dedication to community welfare are steadily undermined by the encroachments of a culture that prizes image and performance over principle and real accomplishment.

It's a process that pushes both the interview subjects of Faludi’s book and protagonist Don Draper of Mad Men into a state of spiritual free fall.

At the same time, however, we’re reminded by both works that we cannot go back: Thanks in part to its terrific attention to the details of its characters’ lives, Mad Men makes a sexist social order real and concrete, and reminds us of how far we’ve advanced from the “good old days” when women were prisoners in their own homes.

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