Tuesday, May 19, 2015

No Angry Man

I never watched the show.

"‘Mad Men’ never shifted its gaze from its wronged women" by Matthew Gilbert Globe Staff  May 12, 2015

In the seven seasons of “Mad Men,” which ends its run on Sunday night, creator Matthew Weiner delivered big time.

He gave us charged drama, where the tiniest glances and looks of betrayal provided the best fireworks. He gave us a broad social history of 1960s America, with each character’s fashion and attitude evolving across the decade (except for the eternally buttoned-up ad man Don Draper). He showed us the porous relationship between public history and personal identity. And he took us inside the mind of “the man in the gray-flannel suit” who, like his country mid-20th century, was fractured, post-traumatic, and looking for purpose.

But perhaps Weiner’s most powerful, least romanticized, and most tenacious theme was sexism.

Weiner was relentless on the topic dating back to the first episode of AMC’s “Mad Men,” set in 1960, when Don stormed out of a meeting with client Rachel Menken saying, “I’m not going to let a woman talk to me like this.” Through the experiences of the female characters Weiner explored again and again how deeply sexism and misogyny have been embedded in our culture, how they can emerge both brutally and also in very subtle ways.

To Weiner’s credit, the scenes of gender inequality, of female objectification and humiliation, both at home and at the office, never let up. As the years passed by, some of the show’s other Big Themes, including anti-Semitism and racism, appeared more sporadically and were dealt with less satisfyingly. But Weiner did not buy into lazy clichés about feminism, which suggest that women were liberated once and for all around the time Virginia Slims appeared in 1968 with the slogan, “You’ve come a long way, baby.” He continued to stir up rage about chauvinism and male entitlement right up until the final episodes.


The thing is, “Mad Men” was never about smugly looking back at how awful the past was simply to feel better about the present. The show was written as a portrait of a time against which we could compare and contrast the way we live now. It was an opportunity to notice that much has changed for the better, now that we openly talk about and have legal recourses for workplace discrimination and sexual harassment, but also that much hasn’t. Only a fool would suggest that just because we live in an era when a woman is a serious presidential contender, our sexism problem is over, just as only a fool would say that America’s racial issues are gone now that we have a black president. Weiner is no fool.

If gender disparity was a thing of the past, the spikey humor of “Inside Amy Schumer” — which recently had an all-male jury debating whether Schumer was hot enough to be on TV — wouldn’t ring true as resoundingly as it does....

Haven't seen her program either.


NDUAn inspired ending for Don Draper — and for ‘Mad Men’