Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mad Men

Mad Men is one of my all time favorites, its much more than just a TV show.

Things I love about Mad Men*  :

  • I hate bullies and I always root for the peppy underdog - Mad Men wasn't picked up by any major networks because they thought that nobody would be interested in an advertising drama set in the '60s  which involved a lot of on screen smoking and drinking. Come on man! Grow some balls will you? What would happen if the Louvre or Tate rejected art because they were nude? Keeping aside the extremely top-notch writing and production values, this was a bloody good story about advertising in the 1960s, and was looking at recent American history through that prism. It still amazes me how far we have come in some aspects since then and how we never learned many lessons and still keep repeating the same mistakes even in the 21st century. I never knew or heard about AMC before this show and hats off to them for swimming against the tide and making something truly beautiful which nobody else had the balls to do. Let those big networks keep making 'Two and a half men' and 'Everybody loves Raymond'.

  • Subtle Messaging -  I hate being told what to do. Some might consider it arrogance but it's just that I strongly believe that nobody gets any benefit from a lot of advice. I am more a man of action. I love learning things by observing others, judging whats right or not by myself and then implementing it, I don't want anybody shoving things down my throat even if it's with a silver spoon. Even though smoking and drinking is shown in almost every other frame in Mad Men, its shown with a high dose of reality. Recently I saw a path-breaking Malayalam movie called 'Spirit' which broached the topic of alcohol abuse and involved a lot of on-screen tobacco use. Like Mad Men in every other scene there was a lot of smoking and drinking, but there also was a subtitled health warning in all those scenes and huge warnings before and after the movie. What could be the reason for this? It could be because of  regulations, but on more research it seems that there needs to be only one health warning right before the movie began. Then what could be the reason for flooding us with these warnings? Maybe the director Ranjith was trying to be a self-righteous messiah. The worst possible reason could be that the film-maker believed that the audience are retarded and despite the fact that the entire movie graphically depicts the harm caused by alcoholism (a man vomiting his internal organs bathed in blood is graphic enough for me!) Ranjith still believed the audience wouldn't get the 'subtle' message and so wanted to be sure by adding a bazillion health warnings all over the movie. When I watch Mad Men, it's literally like watching another person's life in detail. Right from the very first episode and throughout its entire 5 year run, Matthew Weiner has masterfully incorporated the gory side effects of substance abuse but its never in your face. We can see the lives of characters we adore disintegrating right before us, the lessons to be learned are right there in front of us. That's the tasteful way of doing it.
(*this is a list in progress)