Monday, April 19, 2010

Mad Men

Posted by Terry McNichols

My husband and I have been catching up on missed episodes of Mad Men, the television show set in the 1960's and based on the work and family lives of the members of an advertising firm.  They are called "Mad Men" because they are Madison Avenue advertisers, working out of their offices in Manhattan.  I've heard some younger people say that they can't bear to watch the show because of the sexism, racism, and other negative behaviors.  We, however, find it extremely fascinating to see things that we remember as just the way things were done at that point in history.  I was in high school in the 1960's -- these things really did happen.

On the one hand, this drama points out that the lives of many of the men and women of that day were not the Donna Reed story that is often portrayed.  But the changes that have come about in our society since that time are huge and it is interesting to notice them.  Here are just a few of the major changes since the 60's:
  • We wouldn't think of taking our children in cars without carseats now.  No one wears them in this series.
  • Women smoked and drank when pregnant.  Nursing your babies wasn't considered "fashionable."
  • Children were not generally included in conversations about death or family problems.
  • Women were not paid the same wages as men, in spite of holding the same jobs (this is still a problem in our society, of course, but at least it is recognized as a problem!)
  • Racism was blatant and acceptable.
  • Women did all the birthing work, while men sat helplessly in waiting rooms.

    I for one think we as a society have come a long ways, especially when I watch this depiction of how things used to be! And yes, this really is an accurate depiction of many of the norms of the 60's!

1 comment:

kenm said...

You can see a little of that in old movies [e.g. Humphrey Bogart] where a visitor walks into a room, and is immediately given a drink usually in one hand and lights a cigarette for the other hand.