The Frightening 1950’s?

Wes and I started a new show last night and, while I like it, I’m not sure I enjoy it. It’s called Mad Men. While it’s well-done and the dialogue and acting are flawless, it’s altogether a bit upsetting to watch. Not upsetting in a Chuck Palahniuk I-need-to-wash-my-brain-out-with-bleach kind of way, it’s more upsetting in an unsettling way.

The show centers around successful ad executives during the 1950’s. The writers have done a flawless job of directing a spotlight into a time not so long ago, when men drank whisky at work and women went to work as secretaries in the vain hopes of landing a rich husband to support them.

The costumes are probably my favorite part (I do love me some red lipstick and pin-curled hair!) but I like the psychology of advertising just as well. Like I said, the show itself is solid.

What upsets me is the rampant adultery. The main character of the show is a war veteran (I’m assuming WWII) and, in front of his wife and kids, is a paragon of wholesomeness and light. Behind his wife’s back, however, he’s hooking up with women left and right.

We’re only three episodes in and we’ve already witnessed three men cheating on their wives without even the tiniest ounce of scruples or remorse. Between the adultery and the working hours, it’s a wonder any of them have time to sleep!

The women on the show, for their part, are hilarious in an unintentional way. One lady was teaching the ropes to an office newbie and, after showing her to her desk, admonished her not to be overwhelmed by all the technology because they “made it simple enough for even a woman to use.”

Need I say more?

What a shift in perspectives! In fifty short years, women have gone from a very defined and limited place in the professional world to being respected as equals (Sure, there are still preconceptions out there, but there always will be. The human mind is built to think in terms of patterns and groupings, so the world will never be free from preconceptions and assumptions).

It just amazes me how far society has come, and in so many different ways. On the show, children tumbled around unsecured in the backseat of a car while a pregnant woman smoked and tossed back martinis. Even though I’m sure a lot of that is theatrical, I’m pretty sure that not all of it is.

If you compare that era to the one in which we live, it’s almost unfathomable to imagine it’s the same country! Driving around with unsecured children is a major no-no nowadays, drinking at work is career suicide, smoking and drinking whilst gestating a human being is likely to get you arrested, and as for the adultery…Well, I fervently hope it’s nowhere near as rampant. Perhaps people just get divorced now, instead of staying married and cheating on the side.

Does anyone know if the 1950’s were really like this, or is the whole show thriving off the shock and novelty factor?

2 thoughts on “The Frightening 1950’s?

  1. As a big fan of time machines, I am convinced that the 50s were really like that. Those crazy baby boomers! This show sounds interesting…I think I will have to add it to my rental queue.

  2. -Del, I think you’d be an awesome time-traveller. I can totally picture you slapping high fives with Abe Lincoln. Let me know what you think of the show, yes?

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