Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Mad Men Moment

I'm not a fan of this show.  I tried to watch a few episodes when it first came on television but the fact is that it glorified a period in American history that touched a nerve in me.  So I let it go.  Some things are for some people and some are not for others, y'know.  However, last Saturday I read an interesting article online talking about how in Season 4, Mad Men addressed quite a few of the things that I had issues with...racism and chauvinism, topping the list. 

Since Mad Men is showing on On Demand (Comcast's version of DVR), I thought I would watch an episode or two...figuring that I wouldn't like it and go my merry way.  I was sucked in during the first 20 minutes of the first episode I watched and proceeded to watch all 4 episodes.  Not only were there great storylines but the clothing (which is the reason I originally tried to watch the show) was like eye candy to me.


The good thing about watching it on On Demand is that I could pause it and take pictures...and take pictures I did...ALOT of them!  It was the details.  The outfits that women wore during the 60s had such lovely details.  An extra seam, pleats, an extra band of color...and the color that the women on this show wear!  No browns, blacks or grays for them...no trying to look like men...no these women wallow in their femininity.

I am sooooo inspired by what I saw on just these 4 episodes and I'm sure that some of it will show up in my sewing.  I don't know if I'm going to watch any more of it...I may...but just that brief immersion really stirred up my creative juices.

So do you watch Mad Men?  Has it inspired you to sew differently or dress differently?  And if you don't watch it, why don't you?

....as always more later!

39 comments:

  1. Naw, don't watch. The one time I tried it, I had the same reaction as you. Haven't tried it again.

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  2. It's funny,I had the same reaction as well. I tried to watch a few episodes for the clothes, but I just couldn't get into it. I even tried On Demand, but NO. I haven't watched since.

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  3. I started watching madmen season 1 with my boyfriend after the second season came out on dvd. I hated it for all the reasons you explained and more! It was such a chauvinistic, racist show. I was always disgusted and even a little bored at the end of each episode. The clothes (and the fact that I got to spend time with the BF) kept me coming back for more though. Over time (4 seasons now) I have grown to like the show because the characters and plot have grown and developed. The show deals with so many issues in a different way than we would deal with them now, which I also find really interesting now.

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  4. I can get it free online with ninemsn.com.au and have only watched 3 or 4 episodes. Cannot stand all the smoking!! Not to mention all the politically incorrectness. Can't get into it. Not sure if it gets better. Should I perservere?

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  5. I do watch the show. I am fascinated by all the period details. These people are the generation between my parents and grandparents. The casual sexism and racism are shocking. I'm used to dramas where the unfairness is perpetrated by malicious bad-guys, not complex characters who don't seem to even realise that they are being jerks.

    The clothes are mesmerising, but I've no intention of ratcheting myself into the period undergarments they require!

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  6. no I dont what mad man but I've seen videos and read articles about the designs and designer inspiration on the wardrobe for each season.
    September vogue had an article discussing undergarments like corsets and they had a reference to one of the actresses from Mad Men because she told them she had little scars from bruises made by the griddles she wore to support the dresses. That is how real to fashion of that time the show is. I found this very interesting, talk about getting into character!

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  7. I've watched all of the previous three seasons on Netflix (we don't have cable)..and it's fascinating to see an a dead on accurate representation of an era I remember so well from childhood (I'm a about 5 younger than Sally Draper).Tom and Lorenzo's analysis of each episode is excellent BTW.

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  8. So funny you should say this. I teach a course in the summers called "Gender and PR" and I show part of an episode to my studenst so they have some sense of what it was like for working women in the early corporate world. This show makes more points than any thing I can say can. It reminds us of how far we have come and always starts discussions of what our world would like like 40 years from now, what we do now that is narrow and offensive.

    So I like it for all of that. It is good to upset students and keep their eyes open.

    I do adore the clothes though, though no one is getting me into a girdle. You are right though the details are inspirational - I know your brain and anticipate seeing some of them come out in your wardrobe.

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  9. Hi Carolyn, first of all: I've been reading and enjoying your blog for quite a while and youlook gorgeous in your beautiful self made garments!
    I'm from Germany and we're awfully behind you: "Mad Men" has just started on Free TV so I've only seen the first 2 episode up to know.
    I don't think that the show is chauvinistic, or racist. It is aiming toward authenticity and from what I hear from people who were grown-ups during the 60ies, it is pretty accurate. I ground my teeth several times even during those first episodes - imagine to be a woman at those times! Yes, people were brought up differently, but still, I am really glad that I live today.
    The fashion, however, that's a different thing. My personal taste tends more towards the 1940ies, but those flared dresses really are fantastic and I'm already scanning my pattern collection for a "Mad Men-skirt".

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  10. I've been hooked from season 1! I love the storylines. I thought I wouldn't like it for the same reasons as you, but a lot of the issues you have, have been addressed from the POVs of the main characters. I love the fashion and apparently everyone else does. A lot of this season's collections were inspired by this show.

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  11. When AMC was offered on my minimal cable package I watched a few episodes and I had the same issues that you did with it and stopped watching. I just couldn't like the characters or the attitudes. It made me angry and I can get angry watching some of the same attitudes rear their ugly head again in the hear and now

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  12. When I struggled through the first few episodes (coming to it late), I was appalled! Smoking, drinking, racism, sexism, chavanisim! But, it WAS realistic for the time and that's what they were going for. Of course the costuming is fabulous, and the writing and acting are terrific. It's a journey and it's interesting. Interesting in a way that I know we don't want to go back there!

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  13. I am a BIG fan. I have seen every episode of the series So much in fact that I never had to catch a missed epeisode on On Demand. Not saying I don't rewatch them on On Demand.Jus saying I have never missed one.

    I too expected to disapprove of the show, I felt the same with Big Love. But as with Big Love, I find that some truths although uncomfortable, are still the truths. The way they portray Black people and women on the show are accurate for that time period. Just because I don't like it doesn't mean it didn't happen. And I want young Black people (me included) and young women (me included again) to know that what we have now isn't the way its always been, and how we need, for the sake of our predessesors, to keep things moving forward for the babies.

    I love the clothes. I have plans to make a bunch of them. I like Peggy's aesthetic. And your right, those women dressed and behaved like women. Not Men with boobs.


    Peace

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  14. I love the show but got on board pretty late. I guess I thought I wouldn't like it either. Watched one episode and crammed 2 seasons in (thanks to i-Tunes) right before season 3 started. I love the depth of the characters and the story lines. The clothes are absolutely stunning and I pretty much love everything that Joanie wears. I think it's subconsciously affected my sewing somewhat. I haven't intentionally gone out and sewn anything I've seen yet.

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  15. I love the show. It IS disturbing to see the sexism, racism, and other 'isms' displayed in a era that seems only slightly removed from our own. But it serves as a reminder that we have (and haven't) 'come a long way, baby.' Remember when THAT phrase seemed bold? The show reminds me of some of the astonishing sacrifices ordinary men and women made (and are still making) during that time to make social changes (I was a kid most of the sixties).

    But isn't it funny that a show like 'Happy Days' which swept all of that under the rug, is universally loved?

    And yes, the clothes are to die for.

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  16. I don't watch it but my parents do. I suppose because they were in high school/college at the time this series takes place, it's a bit of nostalgia for them. I'm just cheap and refuse to pay for cable. I wouldn't be able to afford my fabric habit if I had to pay for cable, too. That said, I've always been a retro fashionista although my time periods are a wee bit earlier. I'm in love with the late 30s/early 40s as far as fashion goes. I have "discovered" the late 60s/early 70s as a possible source of fashion inspiration lately. I don't have any memories at all of the really early seventies since I was in a crib and diapers then, but I DO remember the late 70s (grade school!). And what I remember? Not impressive. Although that may have been due to the fact that we had to wear uniforms to school...

    Back to the topic of Mad Men, though... According to my mom, that was REALLY the way things were. If you think that show is bad, just bear this in mind: she was sexually assaulted as a college co-ed and told that if she didn't put out with her prof (also her advisor), she'd fail his classes and never graduate. Yes, it was a terrible time in American history. But every era has it's problems. It's how we deal with those problems that define us as a society.

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  17. I have been a fan watching it all via Netflix - I don't let the racism or sexism bother me - I too see it as trying to be authentic to the era. To portray it differently would not be period-right. Now do I believe all households were like that - no. As far as sewing - yes, it does make me look at the choices of fabrics, etc., a little closer. I do love the clothes :)

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  18. I am addicted to it! I just started watching Season 4 (I'm always late to the party) and am now catching up on DVD. Yes, it's chauvanistic and racist - but that's a true representation of life during the era. I adore the clothing but I'm so thankful that we, as women, have so many more choices today! I usually limit my vintage pattern buying to the 70s but now find myself buying a few from the 50s and 60s.

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  19. I've watched the last two episodes. I don't think the intention was ever to glorify the American past. I've enjoyed the series, while finding it difficult to watch at times, in part because things haven't changed as much as some people seem to think.

    I hate the women's clothes. They're hideous and look uncomfortable.

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  20. Sorry, I meant to say I've watched the last two SEASONS.

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  21. I started watching it this season. Now, I'm hooked. I like watching the clothes. Most of the time, the styles would not work for me, but lots of the details are inspiring.

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  22. I hear you on why you avoided this show for so long. I'll admit I've loved it from Season 1. It resonates, often painfully, with our generation, black or white, I think.

    My husband refused to watch it with me until this season, because it took him back to the time when he was eight and his 10-year-old brother died suddenly, leaving him to grow up in a home filled with grief. All those 60s period details triggered such strong memories that he couldn't even be in the room if Mad Men was on.

    Me, well, watching daughter Sally Draper is like looking at painful home movies. I grew up with a Don Draper-like father—handsome and smart, but an alcoholic womanizer who was distant with his kids. Thank God my mom was not like Betty Draper 'cause who knows how I would have turned out.

    Mad Men evokes different feelings in each of us, but we can unite over one thing: THE CLOTHES! Love them.

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  23. I absolutely LOVE Mad Men, for many reasons. It was the era I grew up in, and my father and mother were in a similar business environment, so it's a lot like seeing their lives from their point of view. My mother was a combination of Betty Draper and Peggy Olson. My dad was Don Draper, without the hidden personality. I like that the writers address the current affairs of the time from a voice that you wouldn't expect. It's not "oh, this has so been done before" type of show. I read a lot of blogs that analyze the show, and it's a great study in the times that were such a foundation of who I am today.

    Oh, and then there's the FASHION - to. die. for. Peggy Olsen's clothes are my favorite!

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  24. I'm with you, Carolyn. I tried to watch the first season a few months ago, because I'd heard so many good things. I liked the clothes, but nothing else about the show made me watch to keep watching.

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  25. I only check out the clothes. I've never watched an episode. It's also interesting to read the criticisms about what the women with shape wear. They look fabulous and shouldn't be criticised.

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  26. I don't have cable so I have had to watch via dvds.
    That being said-I know nothing of what has happened this season. I am in withdrawal.

    I LOVE it.
    I grew up in the 60's, but the memories it evokes range from painful, happy and yet connected. Racism, sexism, divorce, strict Catholicism, it all resonates.

    But the best part?

    THE CLOTHES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  27. I've not seen the show, but find many of the comments here regarding sexism, etc interesting. I'm a little younger than the women in the show, but still had my fair share of harassment. The high school teacher who grabbed my ass; of course I told no one. The boss who would run into the room all excited when my coworker would have a banana in her lunch. (he liked to watch her eat it). The drinking on lunch hours; the smoking during meetings; the sexist comments I think it's good for those who aren't old enough to have gone through it to see what it was like and realize what life was like back then.

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  28. I have only just recently watched it and the clothes were so mesmerizing that I watched all of the available episodes on Comcast. The influence will definitely show up in my sewing. For one thing, I have no interest in sewing knits right now. I want to do dressmaking and shirtmaking.

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  29. I love it. I watched the finale twice. I had reservations about it in the beginning for the same reasons. Very simply put, who would I go as if one of my friends invited me to a madmen party? Then I decided I would go as Paul's girlfriend from one of the earlier seasons and I made my peace with it. The writing is really quite exceptional.

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  30. I love Mad Men. I was shocked by the things you didn't like about the show, but not shocked enough to stop watching. In my mind, someone was finally trying to accurately portray the attitudes of the time. In that way I think they were doing the opposite of glorifying the chauvinism and racism, because they were showing us how people were tricked into acting and thinking like it was normal and acceptable, and how a few radical people had to make that change instead of just going with the flow.

    I grew up in a time where I was taught that racism is not OK and feminism had happened a long time ago. I'm lucky. The show made me think about who I would be if I'd come of age in a different time, I think people watching the show (if they're willing to look at themselves) will think about whether they would accept the status quo too if people as (outwardly) glamorous as someone like Betty Draper held that attitude...

    Ok I know I go waaay too deeply into it, it's a TV show, but I love the clothes and I love the show in sort of a voyeuristic way.

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  31. I think your reaction is fairly representative of a lot of people. We're so accustomed to PC perspective that we forget the reality of life. It's fairly tame because you and I know it go much farther. However, once you begin to watch, you begin to appreciate it's earnest approach and the writers attempt to address the larger social issues of the times. As for the wardrobe, it's in the hand of a group of perceptive, insightful and talented crew. There is a correlation between character, personality and position in life and the ensemble each wears. Project Rungay, a hilarious blog, does major justice in its interpretation.

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  32. I don't watch it, but it does seem to be a source of fashion inspiration for a whole bunch of folks. I will say, I really enjoyed reading everyone's perspectives about the show in the comments here - very interesting.

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  33. I have never watched it for the same reason you listed. I really want to see the clothes so I may attempt it.

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  34. I originally had your reaction, but by the 4th episode of season 1 I realized that they were being subtly but heavily critical of the racism and chauvinism of the era.

    And yes, I totally want to incorporate some of Joan's elements into my wardrobe, and will once I don't have to worry about nursing access.

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  35. I am a huge fan of this show because it is just so smart and good looking. I can certainly understand the pain that much of it would cause many people. But I think these painful reminders are important for all of us. I love the women -- with the exception of Betty. And as the show has progressed, their strength has come through loud and clear.

    And then there are the clothes! Oh my. How I love looking at them -- and wanting to recreate them.

    I'm bummed that the season is over -- seemed awfully short to me! But at least I still have The Big C.

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  36. Thanks Carolyn, my coat is going to be beautiful, and I credit you for your part in it too. You were one of the ones I called on when I needed advice I could trust on the fit.

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  37. This show is amazing for those of us who live through the time period, and worked in an office environment. The amazing thing about the show, besides the clothing, is how accurate it depicts the culture of the time. Like it or not, that's how it was. I like to remind people my age who have fallen into some sort of a nostalgia vortex, that those were NOT the good old days. Sexism, racism, alcoholism, and any other ism you can think of, was rampant.

    As far as the show goes, the thing that is amazing me right now is the subtle transformation of Peggy and Joan from compliant women of the early 60's to feminists. I'm still not sure Joan is going to make the transformation successfully, but Peggy is.

    This show is not glorifying that era, it's just reminding us of what it was like lest we forget.

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  38. I love the show! Gave it up when I gave up cable, but I have all the seasons ready to go in Netflix. I especially love Christina Hendrix. Her clothes make no apologies for her curves!

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  39. I haven't watched the shows either - but if you are interested in their style you need to check out the Mad Style posts on the Project Rungay blog. They have a wonderful analysis and close-up pictures of the clothing. Definitely a must see for all sewers! http://projectrungay.blogspot.com/search/label/Mad%20Style?max-results=18

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