Mad Men on AMC • Fifth Season Thread

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like, you're critiquing the show for not fighting what the show is already implicitly critiquing

man down (D-40), Friday, 27 April 2012 05:13 (2 years ago) Permalink

sadly otm

THE KITTEN TYPE (contenderizer), Friday, 27 April 2012 05:15 (2 years ago) Permalink

one of melissa's critiques is that the show is anachronistically tepid in the show's acceptance of a mixed race office/social world in direct opposition to the more broad mores of the time and that it's ignoring more complex issues in favor of soap opera. that resonates, is accurate and is more or less damning depending on what you're watching the show for.

"in this super-sexy postracial age" (forksclovetofu), Friday, 27 April 2012 06:01 (2 years ago) Permalink

I think you're denigrating the show by using the term "soap opera", as though it was doing this as a cheap lot device and not as an exploration of character and theme. I think Melissa's critique is fine as long as its accepted that she's hoping the show is different from what it wants to be.

I'd also like her to explain why this is wrong:

In the real-world history of Madison Avenue, 1967 was the year in which the industry’s racist past started coming home to roost. In the fall of that year, data was released by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission showing that minority employment in advertising had barely changed since 1963. And come January and March of 1968, the EEOC and the New York City Commission on Human Rights dragged executives from every major agency in front of the cameras for weeks of public hearings, exposing the shameful discrimination practices of the industry, filing lawsuits against several of them. And then, very soon after those hearings, Madison Avenue finally, finally, began to grasp what had been going on all around them.

as she alluded to having a large number of problems with the article that came (which is posted above), I'd like her to expand upon that.

GoT SPOILER ALERT (Gukbe), Friday, 27 April 2012 06:42 (2 years ago) Permalink

there being other successful women in advertising ... i feel like it would still feel fairly isolating considering they weren't exactly equally distributed?

man down (D-40), Friday, 27 April 2012 07:12 (2 years ago) Permalink

i mean, early on i v much had a critique that the show seemed to be indulging in stereotypes rather than really critiquing them but as its gone on i think its moved into much more nuanced territory

man down (D-40), Friday, 27 April 2012 07:12 (2 years ago) Permalink

I'm okay with the female women in advertising thing, because again, this show is interested in exploring Peggy's growth. Honestly, it's been a number of years (chronologically) since anyone's really cared that there is a woman copywriter. Last season some men bucked at her giving orders, but she's also become de fact second in command in the department (with the power to fire someone, mind) in about 3 years. The only people who have really been questioning of her being a woman are old, white, dinosaur clients who are, themselves, desperately trying to figure out what in the hell "kids these days" like.

Alyssa Rosenberg (who is not a fan of the show) said an interesting thing a few weeks ago. The historical events that have taken place so far that any of the central characters has cared about all happened far away, and very few of them are really paying attention to the riots and the protests about race that are happening in their own city. I think that's a pretty big part of the show in that affluent white people at this time (and in the present, really) can basically ignore the rest of the world by isolating themselves from it through money. It's not just that SCDP is slow to adapt because it's conservative, it's also because the partners (save Lane, I suppose) are all well-off and able to live in a little bubble.

GoT SPOILER ALERT (Gukbe), Friday, 27 April 2012 07:30 (2 years ago) Permalink

Thinking about where they're going with Dawn's character, surely the possibility of lonely Laine cracking onto her and possibly actually having an affair with her is quite high? They've been exploring his somewhat conflicted attitudes to race more than most of the other characters, except Peggy. Most of the characters seem either moderately racist or they're like Don and show no signs of caring one way or the other.

Homosexual Satan Wasp (Matt DC), Friday, 27 April 2012 09:40 (2 years ago) Permalink

LANE

mh, Friday, 27 April 2012 14:06 (2 years ago) Permalink

layeen

"in this super-sexy postracial age" (forksclovetofu), Friday, 27 April 2012 14:13 (2 years ago) Permalink

I think you're denigrating the show by using the term "soap opera", as though it was doing this as a cheap lot device and not as an exploration of character and theme

obviously it can be both. and soap operas do both these things too; not sure why you object to the characterization.

"in this super-sexy postracial age" (forksclovetofu), Friday, 27 April 2012 14:14 (2 years ago) Permalink

a lot of great shows have heavy soap opera dynamics

mh, Friday, 27 April 2012 14:16 (2 years ago) Permalink

one of melissa's critiques is that the show is anachronistically tepid in the show's acceptance of a mixed race office/social world in direct opposition to the more broad mores of the time and that it's ignoring more complex issues in favor of soap opera. that resonates, is accurate and is more or less damning depending on what you're watching the show for.

― "in this super-sexy postracial age" (forksclovetofu), Thursday, April 26, 2012 11:01 PM (Yesterday) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

no, melissa's critique seems to be that the show is "anachronistically tepid" wr2 these things in comparison to a few acknowledged trailblazers. that may be accurate, but i don't find it particularly resonant or damning. honestly, i think that mad men captures the day-to-day mores of its time & place pretty well. it concentrates not on the reactionary or progressive extremes, the entire tapestry of culture, but on a few small people caught somewhere in the middle. that seems a valid strategy to me.

THE KITTEN TYPE (contenderizer), Friday, 27 April 2012 14:50 (2 years ago) Permalink

1. My critique is that the show is about the most boring ad agency in New York when it could be about a fictionalized BBDO or JWT, to be honest. I mean, for all that my problems with the show rest on criticisms that may come across as sociopolitical in nature, my biggest problem with the show is that it's boring and I hate all the characters and I don't understand why there is a tv show about them. I'd rather watch fictional Caroline Robinson Jones as a character. I'd rather watch fictional Mary Wells Lawrence. I hate that Mad Men exists and yet I'm never going to see something like their story play out, because it's what I'd find compelling and because it's such a missed opportunity. I straight-up don't understand what's compelling about watching a show about a middling ad agency with middling aims which will never actually get to the interesting stuff that was actually happening in the ad industry in the 60s which doesn't cover the perspective of anyone whose perspective isn't usually covered by tv or films set during the era. Don Draper would have been the lead character in Mad Men if it had been a movie made in 1960. So what's the point, really? Like idk y'all are missing the point that I just think the show is bad and boring and I wish it were better. I mean, not that I don't think it isn't actually gross with respect to women and POC and isn't anachronistic in many respects, but I'm not just pissed off because I want it to tick some social justice boxes for the sake of being more diverse. I want it to be more interesting to watch.

2. Somewhere up there someone called me out for comparing Peggy to trailblazers and then unreasonably complaining that she falls short, which honestly makes no sense to me. Because while there were far more women in advertising at the time than Mad Men suggests, the ones who did make it as far as Peggy were basically rock stars. None of the women who worked general accounts were as mediocre at their job as Peggy appears to be, because blah blah had to be twice as good to be seen as half as good as their male counterparts. Maybe she's about the level of a low-level minion on women's accounts in terms of her displayed skill. I brought up Mary Wells because there was that scene earlier in the season where Roger claimed that Mohawk would want someone handling their accounts who had a penis. But if Mohawk/Roger was paying any attention to the competition (Braniff), they'd know that Wells had just completely revitalized them and it's weird that Roger wouldn't say something like "we could sell you to them as our own Mary Wells".

3. I have problems with the conclusions that that Slate article draws based on his perception of the Mad Men characters and historical statistics. As if Roger doing blackface has anything to do with the hiring practices of SCDP (seriously, want to venture a guess as to how many current partners of major companies have done something as gross wrt race as blackface?). As if the show is skill with respect to how it handles race by not really handling it at all. As if the absence of a story can be a statement in and of itself (spoiler alert: it can't be, or else Friends and Girls are also really nuanced portraits of race in the 90s and 10s). I'm tired of people congratulating Mad Men for having the bravery or something to be all white. It's just gross, especially coming from a white dude on Slate (who seems to fancy himself an expert on race relations à la Tim Wise). It's one thing to me to defend the accuracy of SCDP being all white (sure, it's plausible), it's quite another to claim that that in and of itself is a powerful statement on race rather than the absence of one. I mean sure, it might be Matthew Weiner's justification (see: his justification for getting rid of Sal and thus the presence of all LGBT issues on the show), but it's a poor one. Ultimately, my point is that if you can both historically justify the show being all white and just as easily historically justify having some (really interesting) characters of color, why on earth would you go with the first option? Why would you continue to go for the first option as the show is entering its fifth season and 1966?

Matthew Weiner has made some gross comments about how the ad agency is "still" all white so I think the answer is that he thinks he's doing everybody a favor and that he really is making some sort of trenchant commentary about race in corporate America by not having any characters of color, because somehow he thinks he's incapable of telling the story in such a way that SCDP's hiring of a character of color doesn't end with "and then racism was over, the end". Because clearly the answer to the after school special grossness of how race is often covered in things like this is to just not have people of color in your stories at all.

Melissa W, Friday, 27 April 2012 15:56 (2 years ago) Permalink

god this is obnoxious I should start my own thread

Melissa W, Friday, 27 April 2012 15:58 (2 years ago) Permalink

i like the show more than you seem to, but otherwise you're otm and i think you should continue to post in this thread.

Mordy, Friday, 27 April 2012 15:59 (2 years ago) Permalink

"a show about a middling ad agency with middling aims" <-- this is what makes it good, i think.

s.clover, Friday, 27 April 2012 16:00 (2 years ago) Permalink

I mean, for all that my problems with the show rest on criticisms that may come across as sociopolitical in nature, my biggest problem with the show is that it's boring and I hate all the characters and I don't understand why there is a tv show about them.

lol okay kinda don't get why you're posting on this thread then

heavy is the head that eats the crayons (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 27 April 2012 16:04 (2 years ago) Permalink

insert "food here is terrible/and in such small portions" joke

heavy is the head that eats the crayons (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 27 April 2012 16:06 (2 years ago) Permalink

what shouldn't she post here? there isn't a finite amount of thread space. it can accommodate ppl who are passionate about the show, ppl turned off by it, and every position in between.

Mordy, Friday, 27 April 2012 16:07 (2 years ago) Permalink

Because it is a show that appeals to me a lot in theory but not in practice, which compels me to watch it but also be eternally frustrated.

Also, I think the show should have just started in 1950 rather than 1960. It wouldn't fix everything, but it would actually make the show less annoying on several fronts. x-posts

Melissa W, Friday, 27 April 2012 16:07 (2 years ago) Permalink

I just always find it odd when people expend a lot of intellectual energy engaging with a piece of work they profess to hate.

heavy is the head that eats the crayons (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 27 April 2012 16:10 (2 years ago) Permalink

god this is obnoxious I should start my own thread

nah, i like long, thoughtful posts. wish there were more such stuff on ILX. fwiw, i agree with you that there's nothing terribly remarkable about mad men's approach to race and gender. it's just another show about mediocre white people living mediocre lives. but, see, i was never sold the idea that it might be any more than that. i never saw anything more than that in the show. i like it for what it is, with the understanding that it's really just the thousand thousandth variation on the same old thing.

so your last round criticism, while undeniable, still doesn't really "resonate" for me. yes, i wish american TV were better. i wish it were more curious, smart and brave, that it weren't so complacently focused on stories about middle class white people going through the same old relationshit. but that's a criticism of american television, not of mad men in particular.

the one thing i can't deny or wave away is your point about mary wells and braniff, especially as it plays into SCDP's acquisition of an airline client and peggy's struggles to be taken seriously by clients. the show's ignorance of or decision to elide people like wells is kind of shameful.

THE KITTEN TYPE (contenderizer), Friday, 27 April 2012 16:10 (2 years ago) Permalink

for ex. if the food tastes bad, I don't continue eating it and ordering more so that I can continue to complain about how bad it is to the people at the table next to me.

xp

heavy is the head that eats the crayons (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 27 April 2012 16:11 (2 years ago) Permalink

Peggy is very good at her job from what I can see, she's just not good in front of frustrating clients (and it isn't her job to do so, Don just left her in the lurch).

Homosexual Satan Wasp (Matt DC), Friday, 27 April 2012 16:16 (2 years ago) Permalink

I just always find it odd when people expend a lot of intellectual energy engaging with a piece of work they profess to hate.

― heavy is the head that eats the crayons (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, April 27, 2012 9:10 AM (14 minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

i don't. why shouldn't someone wrestle with something they don't like? and melissa i really like your posts here

madame boo berry (donna rouge), Friday, 27 April 2012 16:29 (2 years ago) Permalink

Noticing some typos I made above. Should be "Matthew Weiner has made some gross comments about how the ad industry is "still" all white", not "ad agency". x-post

Melissa W, Friday, 27 April 2012 16:31 (2 years ago) Permalink

can't believe this show is about perspectives and people have interpretations of those perspectives

GoT SPOILER ALERT (Gukbe), Friday, 27 April 2012 16:32 (2 years ago) Permalink

for ex. if the food tastes bad, I don't continue eating it and ordering more so that I can continue to complain about how bad it is to the people at the table next to me.

I think it's p. normal for people to keep up with zeitgeist-y things even if they dislike them, particularly if they feel the critical conversation is overlooking things they feel strongly about. substitute "the twilight saga" for "food" in your quote above and you've described 40% of my online interactions during 2009.

supreme sundae (reddening), Friday, 27 April 2012 16:34 (2 years ago) Permalink

why shouldn't someone wrestle with something they don't like? and melissa i really like your posts here

donna otm

THE KITTEN TYPE (contenderizer), Friday, 27 April 2012 16:34 (2 years ago) Permalink

why shouldn't someone wrestle with something they don't like?

it's just not an inclination I share. I have more productive, enjoyable things to do with my time.

heavy is the head that eats the crayons (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 27 April 2012 16:36 (2 years ago) Permalink

it's one thing to critically engage with say, a book or a film you don't like. 5 seasons of a TV show seems a bit much.

heavy is the head that eats the crayons (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 27 April 2012 16:37 (2 years ago) Permalink

yes tbh i was frustrated by your earlier posts, Melissa, but the long one you just posted is definite food for thought, thanks.

jed_, Friday, 27 April 2012 16:38 (2 years ago) Permalink

like I can critically engage with a couple songs and figure out why I don't like a them. Listening to the act's entire catalog seems more like being a glutton for punishment.

xp

heavy is the head that eats the crayons (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 27 April 2012 16:39 (2 years ago) Permalink

I just always find it odd when people expend a lot of intellectual energy engaging with a piece of work they profess to hate.

― heavy is the head that eats the crayons (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, April 27, 2012 11:10 AM (46 minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

i completely disagree w/ melissa but cmon this post is hilarious

man down (D-40), Friday, 27 April 2012 16:59 (2 years ago) Permalink

(spoiler alert: it can't be, or else Friends and Girls are also really nuanced portraits of race in the 90s and 10s)

what? it cant because if it could, these two specific examples WOULD be? have you ever seen a whit stillman movie?

man down (D-40), Friday, 27 April 2012 17:00 (2 years ago) Permalink

None of the women who worked general accounts were as mediocre at their job as Peggy appears to be

i never get the impression whatsoever that she's bad at her job? this feels like fiction

man down (D-40), Friday, 27 April 2012 17:01 (2 years ago) Permalink

sadly otm

THE KITTEN TYPE (contenderizer), Friday, 27 April 2012 17:11 (2 years ago) Permalink

madmen tends to feel like it could be a truly great show that often settles for good with flashes of stupidity and excellence. The last episode was SO good though tbrr

"in this super-sexy postracial age" (forksclovetofu), Friday, 27 April 2012 17:49 (2 years ago) Permalink

i never get the impression whatsoever that she's bad at her job? this feels like fiction

Well, that's the thing though. Impression is all the show operates on when it comes to Peggy. She is often said to be good, but whenever we actually see her doing anything related to a pitch, her idea is poorly thought out or needs significant finessing by Don to actually be a pitch rather than toothless brainstorming ("you can't frame a phone call"). She is never shown to be a heavy hitter that can get the job done on her own, and when we do see her solo her ideas usually aren't great and she can't land a pitch. It was actively weird when Don tried to say that her ideas were ahead of their time at the end of season 3 when he was trying to get her to join the new agency, when she hadn't actually created anything on her own that entire season.

I don't think the show necessarily means to portray her as bad at her job, but she's pretty much never been shown as being good at her job, and that's a pretty significant failure on the part of the show. When we hear about her, she's great. But when they bother to show her working, it's only when she's fucking up or collaborating with Don and not really contributing much. I honestly can't think of a time when Peggy has been shown as hitting anything out of the park or really impressing anyone.

Melissa W, Friday, 27 April 2012 18:07 (2 years ago) Permalink

wrong again

heavy is the head that eats the crayons (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 27 April 2012 18:11 (2 years ago) Permalink

Peggy (w/Ken) breaking the firm's "losing streak" last season

heavy is the head that eats the crayons (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 27 April 2012 18:11 (2 years ago) Permalink

I'm sure there's others

heavy is the head that eats the crayons (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 27 April 2012 18:12 (2 years ago) Permalink

Aside from Don winning the Clio (which Peggy played a part in), when was the last time he really 'knocked it out of the park'? I think the focus has shifted, as though we're meant to take for granted that both Don and Peggy are competent at their jobs, it's just how they're selling it that differs. Peggy's gambit last week seemed absurd and suicidal, but Don has taken similar approaches and they worked.

GoT SPOILER ALERT (Gukbe), Friday, 27 April 2012 18:16 (2 years ago) Permalink

wanna say there was something to do with Ponds re: Peggy but can't remember

also yeah this show hardly focuses on "the work" per se (the agency spent most of last season scranbling just to GET work at all)

heavy is the head that eats the crayons (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 27 April 2012 18:20 (2 years ago) Permalink

Peggy's gambit last week seemed absurd and suicidal, but Don has taken similar approaches and they worked

this was totally intentional tho. Peggy was very deliberately aping Don's diction, mannerisms and speech patterns - but it backfired for the reason some other (female) character previously noted, "no one likes a woman who acts like a man"

heavy is the head that eats the crayons (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 27 April 2012 18:22 (2 years ago) Permalink

I agree. I don't think it was down to being bad at her job.

GoT SPOILER ALERT (Gukbe), Friday, 27 April 2012 18:24 (2 years ago) Permalink

with shakey and gubke here. there's every indication in the show that peggy really is remarkably good at her job. it's just that the show says this more than shows it. similar to pete's apparent excellence when we mostly just see him being a weaselly little dork. the problem is that the show doesn't devote much time to the day-to-day advertising work that sustains the company, not that peggy is poor at her job or a fundamentally unbelievable creation.

THE KITTEN TYPE (contenderizer), Friday, 27 April 2012 18:25 (2 years ago) Permalink

the only thing they really show is that she works insane hours.

Porto for Pyros (The Cursed Return of the Dastardly Thermo Thinwall), Friday, 27 April 2012 18:26 (2 years ago) Permalink

the problem is that the show doesn't devote much time to the day-to-day advertising work

this isn't a problem. a show that did would be mind-numbingly boring.

heavy is the head that eats the crayons (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 27 April 2012 18:28 (2 years ago) Permalink


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