• Fri, Mar 23 2012

Why I Don’t Watch Mad Men

That’s right. I admit it. I don’t watch Mad Men. And it’s not because I don’t watch TV. My DVR is filled with all kinds of ridiculousness, from House of Lies to Project Runway All-Stars and even a little Heart Of Dixie. Don’t worry, I got into Homeland, so it’s not all bad.

That being said, I just can’t get myself worked up about Don Draper’s hotness or Christina Hendricks‘ ample bosoms.

Here’s my reasoning. From the very beginning, all I really heard about Mad Men were the awesome clothes. Who knew the 60s were so effin’ fashionable? Oh wait, everyone did. I admit, all the pretty pictures I see floating around the internet are adorable. They make me want to run right out and buy a great silk scarf and a polka-dot pencil skirt.

But I don’t need to watch Mad Men to get some 60s fashion inspiration. Because every designer under the sun is inspired by Mad Men lately. I think Jen gave a balanced and completely unbiased critique of Banana Republic’s Mad Men line.  Prada’s been pretty on to of the retro-inspired looks for a couple seasons now. I suppose I can always wonder over to ModCloth if I’m really feeling the need to be inundated with vintagey goodness.

Seriously, Mad Men might have started the trend, but I don’t need to watch the episodes to get the gist of their style impact.

Then there’s all the pre-feminist movement nostalgia. Oh, the days when women suffered extreme sexual harassment and workplace discrimination. Those were super fun times. How could I not want to re-experience those through the lens of a dramatic re-interpretation?

Well honestly, if I wanted to know what it was like to work with assholes who treated women like they were incapable of dealing in a business world, I’d just take my butt right back to the beer industry where I worked for four years. Believe it or not, it’s easy to be reminded about sexism in the workplace. Find a male-dominated industry and attempt to work in it for a while.

Sure, not everything is as overt or offensive. But now, you get the benefit of people telling you that you just need to “Lighten up,” because it’s not as bad as it once was. (For an amazing piece on sexism in small doses, check out this essay from Katie Cunningham. It’s inspiring.) The gender discrimination is still there, it’s just not as honest and straight-forward as it once was. Our sales manager once told me that we couldn’t hire an attractive young girl to be a sales person because, “The guys would just do everything for her the minute she asked. Everyone else would be picking up her slack, just because she smiles at them.” I haven’t seen an episode of Mad Men, but I would imagine that dialogue like this would fit in rather nicely.

I suppose there’s one more reason that I simply can’t get in to everyone’s favorite show. I’ve held out too long now. I have no idea what’s happened in the past seasons, and I definitely don’t have time to catch back up. The moment has passed me by.

You can’t hop on every train at the same time, and I simply missed the 1960s express. I suppose I’ll just have to wait for the next national phenomenon to sweep through and attempt to get involved there. For now though, I’ll spend this weekend not caring about what happens to Don, Betty and the rest. I’ll be patiently waiting for this AMC cloud to blow over.

(Photo: Ace Showbiz)

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  • Montine

    YES.

    Everyone freaks out when I say I don’t watch Mad Men. I gave it a couple episodes but it just pissed me off.

    This is pretty much how every conversation about it goes:

    THEM: OMG! Did you see Mad Men last night?!?!?!?!
    ME: No, I don’t care for that show.
    THEM: WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?! HOW?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!
    ME: It enrages my inner feminist.
    THEM: Oh. Well. I can see that. But Don Draper gets his just desserts at times!
    ME: Yeah. I’m sure he does.

    What I find super interesting is A LOT of my uberfeminist friends LOVE this show! I don’t get it. But yeah, I’ve worked at a few All Boys Clubs and maybe they haven’t?

    • Rachael

      Um, I find your inability to understand the idea that feminists could like Mad Men rather offensive in itself. The show looks at their society through highly jaded lenses. They know the 1960s were not a great time for women in business.

      Every single character is fleshed out, interesting, makes mistakes, has their own triumphs. And their mistakes are not celebrated. Nobody thinks that Don behaves well when he cheats.

      Just because a show portrays sexism doesn’t mean it is sexist- quite the opposite, in this case. But of course you don’t watch the show, so you really don’t know what you’re talking about.

    • Elle

      I think I understand Montine’s point (or, even if I don’t understand, I can reconcile her view with the show being anti-sexist). The show can be feminist (or at least not sexist), but that doesn’t mean that its content wouldn’t enrage a feminist.

      If I may use an analogy, it’s like those ASPCA commercials with the pictures of abused animals. As an animal lover, I agree with their objective (to raise money to give suffering cats and dogs better lives), but that doesn’t mean I want to watch the clips of kitties and puppies looking downtrodden and sad. I don’t watch those commercials. They’re not my cup of tea. (No, I’m not trying to liken women to animals; yes, I do understand the difference between fiction and non-fiction. Like I said, it’s an analogy.)

    • vomiting

      You mean ‘just deserts’, Montine.

    • Stefanie

      I think there’s a fine line between being subversive and being misogynistic. I like subversive. After sitting through two seasons of Mad Men trying to figure out which one it was, I decided it hits way too close to misogynistic for me to enjoy.

  • Will

    I’ve never watched a second of it, but i think im going to start. There’s a large bad-tv-series hole in me and i need to fill the void. ll be offended for you while watching if you’d like.

  • Jamie Peck

    Dude. Mad Men is so good. Yes, it shows the horrible sexism of the 1960s, but it doesn’t glamorize it. It shows how fucked up it was. It also brings up parallels to today in the viewer’s mind and makes us think about how far we both have, and have not, come. It is an incredibly feminist show. I think you would like it!

    • Jennifer Wright

      All I want is for Don Draper to come onto me in a powder room, so I think you are confused.

    • Lindsay Cross

      Believe me, you don’t have to watch the show to have fantasies about Don Draper in the powder room.

      And Jamie, you’re one of very few people who might be able to convince me to give it a shot.

    • Tania

      Totally this! I started watching it, and the first few episodes I was like “whoa, this is horrible.” But as the show went on, I was like “holy crap, this is AMAZING.”

      The people are real, they do real things in the context of their times (even if those things are awful), and the clothes are fantastic. What is not to love?

  • Casey

    Or, you know, maybe people are into it because of it’s legitimately good writing and storyline. Nice break from Real Housewifes of Anytown and whatever latest spin-off the Kardashicraps are producing.

  • Amanda Chatel

    Lindsay Cross… I’m speechless. And I’m rarely speechless.

  • Georgia

    Mad Men is a well written and incredibly entertaining show so you’re only hurting yourself by not watching it because you’re too lazy. I don’t understand why your disinterest in watching a certain show merited an article- should I be expecting a ‘Why I Don’t Watch Breaking Bad’ or other equally pointless titles?

    • Elle

      I hardly think one’s “hurting” oneself by not watching a television show.

      I watched the pilot and found no need to watch further. Even if I’m missing out on what is far and away the best thing ever put on television, I’m spending my time in a way that I think is better, so I’m pretty sure I come out ahead.

    • ktree

      Ya know, I have watched a lot of this show, and enjoyed it, but either way I totally agree with “I hardly think one’s “hurting” oneself by not watching a television show.” It’s a TV SHOW. It is one thing to not watch it and not care, but completely another thing to get super pissed because someone else doesn’t watch it. Jesus, people. Just live your lives.

  • KatieMB

    Hmm, I think I don’t care enough (about you don’t watch MM) to leave a comment. Yeah, makes the same sense as your logic for not watching MM. Honestly, who cares why you don’t watch it. Enjoy what you enjoy and write about THAT.

  • Eileen

    I have a lot of really intelligent, feminist friends (even academic feminists, who are the most strident kind) who enjoy this show. Then again, I have a lot of really intelligent, feminist friends who fangirl for Bill Clinton despite the fact that in all likelihood he has committed sexual harassment. I guess a lot of women have fantasies about being overpowered and dominated, and prefer to live them out through a handsome actor on a TV show, for example, rather than in real life. That’s okay. But I’ve never found that appealing, and I feel like watching it play out would just piss me off, no matter how well acted or well written. And I avoid entertainment that pisses me off because IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE ENTERTAINMENT. This is why I avoid anything with the name “Aaron Sorkin” attached to it, for example.

    But the main reason I don’t watch the show is that I prefer to watch shows after they’ve gone off the air, in DVD format only.

    • Goldie

      Look, it’s fine if you don’t want to watch Mad Men, really, but please stop extrapolating other women’s reasoning for enjoying the show. They watch it because domination fantasies? Really. So Man Men’s entire female fan base is made up of masochists? (Masochism is suffering through the dialogue on Dexter. I have no fucking clue why I am still watching that show.) People love this show for the same reasons they love any great show– the quality of writing, depth of characters, layers of meaning, yadda yadda yadda.

      You don’t watch anything that pisses you off? Really? So…basically no dramas then? Nothing that portrays any type of injustice, or is sexism the only thing that pisses you off?

      (P.S. I know that my love of Bill Clinton is totally irrational but Mad Men is fucking legit.)

  • Jamie

    It’s your loss, dude. Mad Men is a great show purely on the dramatic level. Even without the 60s setting or the institutionalized sexism theme (which it would be inauthentic without), it would still be a great show. It’s written, produced and acted in a such a high-quality way that it makes me have hope for the future of television, even when the TV schedule is packed with “reality” drivel.

  • Well…

    My boyfriend loves the show. I think I would enjoy it, but I honestly don’t feel like catching up with it on my own. It’s not like Mad Men is the only good TV out there right now. How about Dexter, Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire?

  • wizzlewolf

    I totally agree with everything you said. Also, I don’t have to watch a TV show about the 60′s because I lived through the sixties. It was not cute, fun, or fair. This Hollywood glamorization reminds me of recalling past boyfriends. You only remember the good things and after a while in weak moments you think “He wasn’t so bad, really(?)” Well, I will never think this of the sixties especially in regard to the plight of women or any person who wasn’t a white male. You can put fancy clothes on it, but it will never be pretty.

  • no

    This is a great show, read that again, it’s a SHOW, A TV SHOW. Take it for what it is and simply enjoy it, stop over analyzing it into some huge statement on the 60′s. It’s a top current TV show, and you’re doing yourself an injustice by leaving it out of your show rotation.

  • pickles

    That you have anything to add to one of the greatest, most artful television series ever made, one that explores characters and plot like a great novel, is highly questionable and frankly, my dear, I don’t know who you are and I absolutely don’t give a damn.