Mad Men has ended it’s season. I’ve been enjoying the trip back in time that it’s been providing on a weekly basis. It does upset me a bit though when people start talking about it as AMC’s break into having a tv series rather than just movies. Maybe it’s their first as “The Future of the Classic” but back when they played actual classic classics they had Remember WENN. Those who knew me back in High School knew of my obsession with that trip back in time, a trip that included beautiful 40s vintage and came with some of the best Broadway actors of the 90s making routine appearances. To me in high school the show was perfect. It was before the days of DVD’s so it has disappeared, except for a handful of vhs’s that I recorded off the tv ten years ago.
I’d been hesitant to return to watching a series on AMC when the one I loved had been so cruely cancelled. And now that I’m a loyal Mad Men fan I fear for it’s similar fate. But they are signed up for season number three, hopefully soon with the same artistic team. This week it’s been easy to find Mad Men love all over the place. Saturday Night Live had actor Jon Hamm as a guest start last week where they put together a little “Don Draper’s Guide to Getting Women.” It’s all rather inside jokey, which is an odd thing for network TV but hopefully it also got some new audience to the show.
For more Mad Men multimedia Nextbook did a podcast this past week (Mad Mensches) with the series creator on the Jewish presence in the story. Variety also had a long interview with the series creator which while reading confirmed in my mind what makes something ‘smart.’ You often hear about a tv series or play being “smart.” I’ve come to realize, and maybe everyone else already has, that it’s not about the information given, it’s about the information withheld. It’s not that the writer has created something so intellectual and intelligent it’s that watching the show/film/play forces the viewer to think, to put the pieces together, in order to follow the story. It’s not that the pieces itself is smart it’s that it provides the audience with an opportunity to prove their own intelligence. That is the charm of Mad Men, and something that some audience members have trouble coming to terms with, nothing is spelled out. As the interview says he purposefully puts ambiguity into the storytelling. That ambiguity allows a willing audience to feel smart as they close up the holes in the story themselves. That type of storytelling is something that has always attracted me, it’s, I find, the mark of a good writer, to leave those wholes open so the audience can finish the story in their minds, and at the same time arrange it in such a way that the audience discovers what they wanted them to all along. It’s an incredible talent and puts the writer in the minds of their audience.
One other tidbit I found interesting in the interview. He talks about his influences, names “Death of a Salesman” as an obvious influence. But what was really exciting to me was the two movies he named: “The Best Years of our Lives” and “The Apartment.” Both movies that stun me, that I love. Both movies that show so clearly a time and a world on such an overwhelmingly big and overwhelmingly small level.
Here are trailers for the two movies – neither of which really shows the depth to which these films are able to reach. I find the Apartment trailer especially ineffective. If these are movies you haven’t seen add them to your netflick’s list now (and Michelle, I want my DVD of The Apartment back!):