I’ve always been vocal about the fact that Mad Men is not precisely my cup of tea—I’m not overly compelled by the acting, but most importantly, the show has covered the half of the sixties I’m less interested in. I can understand why it’s interesting to observe, and even to sympathize with, the people who would face stunning losses of their privilege as the Civil Rights, women’s rights, gay rights, and anti-war movements emerged and blossomed into powerful new forces in American society. But I’m just more interested in the people who are busting out—it’s why I was a sucker for the Mattachine Society subplot* in the quickly- and justly-cancelled The Playboy Club; why The Weather Underground, which should be mandatory viewing for anyone who wants to pontificate about sixties radicalism, is one of my favorite documentaries of all time; and why I would love to see someone adapt Blanche McCrary Boyd’s Terminal Velocity, a great, sublimely weird book about a Southern co-ed turned Boston book editor turned lesbian feminist.
I understand this as a personal preference, but coming out of your chrysalis has always more interesting to me than retreating to your fort. And I’ve joked that I’d be happy with Mad Men if Sally Draper grew up and joined the Weather Underground, broke Don’s heart, and turned the whole thing into American Pastoral. Alternatively, I’d accept Peggy saying the hell with all this, leaving New York, joining the Boston Women’s Health Collective, and helping shepherd through the first edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves.
This year may be the one when I finally get what I find most personally satisfying out of Mad Men: a more direct confrontation between generations and over values. I’ve seen the pilot, which is excellent, but which I won’t discuss until Monday (when I will discuss it at length) for fear of angering a very spoiler-sensitive Matt Weiner. But I will ask: what are you hoping to get out of Mad Men this season?
*Seriously. Somebody please make this show.