Everyone whose opinion I respect, LOVES "Mad Men."
I watch the show. Not regularly. I don't want to watch anything regularly except, in the late evening, news (usually Olberman and Maddow). Then I browse around, looking for a movie.
And sort of accidentally (while checking AMC), watch an episode of "Mad Men."
In the pilot, and early episodes, I watched because my favorite actor (my husband JC), was playing a strong-willed cigarette manufacturer, an important client of the show's advertising agency.
The leading actor, Jon Hamm, playing Dan Draper, a strong, talented, down-to-earth, ambitious ad agency executive, has a rare charisma. Watching him handle the client, the sexy secretaries, his cut-out-doll, loving wife, his kids -- I'm riveted. His story line is compelling -- current, as well as a look at how we got where we are today.
Draper's wife, actress January Jones, is scripted as a typical, conforming, "wifey" wife of the early sixties -- doing what girls were brought up to do -- serving, seducing, supporting the man of the family, while handling the kids and household routines as her job.
Draper's infidelities, his aggressive, risky moves as an executive, create suspense as his wife becomes aware of her own restlessness, and senses that Draper is distracted, not very interested in her sexually.
The story line of copy-writer Peggy Olsen (skillfully, believably played by actress Elizabeth Moss), is for me, by itself, a reason for watching of the show.
It's fun, and fascinating, to see the virtuous, un-liberated young Peggy, after her first time with a man -- a one-night stand with a co-worker that gets her pregnant -- having the baby, holding onto her job -- learning to maneuver, while politely, tactfully, managing to rise in the male hierarchy.
The bouffant clothing and hairdos, the various female types of the early sixties, the chauvinistic men -- everyone smoking -- chain-smoking, lighting up after sex, after meals, and the first thing in the morning -- the casting, the dialogue, decor, props -- all of it is good. But it's not as super good (in my opinion), as the citations, awards, and the advertisements for the show suggest.
So why am I now watching this show regularly?
Because, in my book "Somebody" (see The Readery.com), I wrote about women and girls of the fifties sixties, and seventies -- the events that changed makeup, clothing, manners, morality, and what women were striving for and ... well...
Okay, I'll say it.
I'm jealous, irritated, that what I wrote wasn't translated into a show. And that prejudice -- liking what I did better than what the other guy did -- is what a writer feels. While I'm watching "Mad Men," my mind is half-way above the scene, remembering -- facts, details that you store in your brain when you're creating scenes for a novel.
I'm writing about "Mad Men" because it' s one of the highest level, absorbing soap operas on television -- worth watching, if you're the kind of person who likes to participate in a show by watching it regularly.
I can't. I'm too much involved with my work, as a blogging commentator. And now we're turning my blogs, the best ones -- into videocasts, in which my husband and I chat and banter about the blog.
"Mad Men" will be one of them in January.