Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It

I re-watched the first episode of season one of Mad Men (available here), and I've talked to a couple people behind the scenes about it, and my conclusion is that we really ought to talk about this one. So if you haven't already seen this, you might want to go to AMCs website and watch the first episode. It's about 45 minutes long, and it is textbook. The writing is absolutely brilliant.

After you have watched it, I want you to give some thought to two issues. Neither one of these issues has much to do with Don Draper as an antihero, but they have a lot to do with the kind of critical thinking we need to do in our analysis of Don's antiheroic nature.

Topic One: Foils
Take a closer look at this scene in the early part of the episode when Don pays a visit to his mistress. Then take a look at the final scene when Don returns home to his wife. How do these scenes act as foils of each other? No detail is too small to be worthy of attention. These scenes are very carefully orchestrated.

Topic Two: Dissemblance
Poor Salvatore. It must be hell to be a closeted homosexual in this environment. Watch the way his character interacts with the world around him, paying particular attention to the things he does that give him away, and the things he does to hide his true nature.

I'm going to give you a day or two to watch it and think it over, and then we're going to use these ideas as a springboard into an analysis of Don Draper's character. You really only need to see the first episode if you want to play along, but I caution you: if you watch the first one, you just might want to watch the rest.


Josephine Damian said...

AMC is running the entire first season of Mad Men this Sunday. I've already fired up the TiVo!

Anonymous said...

I've just discovered I can watch it on the net. Many US network shows are restricted to US viewing, but evidently AMC has different sensibilities.

I love the Don Draper actor. Remember him from the series where he took on different personas? I believe he's Canadian. And his mistress was in the sort of modern 'Moonlighting' where I believe she was either a cop or FBI agent.

I've just seen the first part of the first episode, but I already agree this is a goodie. It's interesting that they're taking on a major social change issue as the central focus, but also are exposing the sexism and racism of the period, which was when? the 50s? It felt much more contemporary, like the 70s even. But the opening text over said the 50s. On to segment 2!

The 'anti-hero' is also right on time for a rewrite of our first book where a CEO is caught up in saving his company by smuggling things out of South Africa. I believe I'll suggest my writing partner watch it as well.

Edittorrent said...

I couldn't get over how much everyone smoked! And imagine drinking at work!!

A very different time. :)