Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Mad Men" Freaks Me Out

I'm not saying it's bad! Don't worry! I've never even seen a whole episode. But I can't get past how this one time back when I was living somewhere where I had cable, which was so long ago that Mad Men was not yet a phenomenon/mania/cultural touchstone, I saw a minute or so of it and I promptly stopped watching. I changed the channel. It happened. What the fuck, right? I was watching at Don (or somebody, I didn't know characters at the time) stare suggestively and uncomfortably silently across his desk at Joan (again, could have been someone else) and I just...changed the channel. It was making me uncomfortable.

Then today there's this essay about how this fellow watched the entire series and came to the sort of unbelievable conclusion that it sucks. And reading it, I realized what my deal was exactly. Everything seemed unduly sexy in those 30 or so seconds I saw. The guy was probably holding a bourbon and the woman was standing all curvily in front of him, and the show seemed to be saying, "Yeah, once you could drink at work even though that's a retarded idea and women used to be sexually harrassed way more and kept in subordinate positions because of institutionalized misogyny, and isn't that sexy?" And I thought, "Nope! It's not!" and changed the channel.

I still haven't watched it and I probably just need to try again. Although I'm pretty bad at watching TV that isn't comedy, so odds are slim that I would do this on my own unless someone directed me to a site to watch it and recommended an episode that has very few long silences filled with vacuous, steamy stares. But two things still sort of scare me about Mad Men. First, I'm afraid I'd watch it and not like it and become a social pariah. But I'm even more afraid that Mad Men is actually bad. What if that guy was right, and everyone else in the world is wrong? What does that say about us? My God, what if the smartest members of our society were bamboozled by period dress and everyone smoking sexily all the time? The whole idea freaks me out. I hope for everyone's sake that it's actually really good, and I'll probably continue to not watch it. I'm too scared.

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