The End of an Era – Mad Men Finale

Shifting From ‘Mad Men’ to Strong Women in a Series Finale –

So, what did you think of the Mad Men finale? I think I’m satisfied. I was thinking as I was watching it for the fourth time last night that Mad Men essentially covered my childhood. I would have been around the age of Gene Draper at the season finale. I don’t know if that means anything, but a lot of the Big Moments of the show I remember from the vantage point of a child.

While the whole Peggy/Stan thing made sense, I disliked that they saved their coming together for the last episode. Even if they’d done it last week, it would seem less forced. I always loved their whole office phone conversations. The fact that neither of them could sustain relationships with other people was the first clue that they were headed toward coupledom. Peggy is many times more ambitious than Stan and it’s cool that he’s okay with that. Peggy always represented that shift from housewife to career woman that was so revolutionary 40-50 years ago.

I’m not sure I bought Joan’s storyline. I mean, I get that she’s a woman of means now, but the whole driven career woman is not what I saw in her. I guess because her personal style didn’t really update over the years. Even when she went on her “poor me” shopping spree earlier this season, the clothes she bought were mature and serious. While I get that Joan is totally her own woman and knows her own power, as the series went on and we see the other women in the office embracing the 1970s freedoms, we don’t see that with Joan. Every outfit that she’s in requires a serious layer of restrictive foundation garments. She is probably in her late 30s at the show’s close, but the updo, the bullet bras, the full makeup, the form fitting skirts and the pumps all read much older, especially when she is standing next to Peggy. If she had loosened up one of her trademark elements, literally let her hair down, she would have looked fresher for starting a new business on her own.

The Coke ad at the end of the show kind of proves my point. This was a pivotal point where the views of young people were prominent and influential. Agencies knew they had to reach the 18-29 crowd in a different way than before – not unlike now where the internet social media grows faster (wasn’t Instagram brand new yesterday?) than companies’ market strategy. SCDP had to hire a younger creative team in the 60s so I wonder if Joan can be a success if we never got an indication of her appeal to a youth market.

Still, I like how Peggy and Joan were coming to power as Roger (and that awful moustache!) was fading and Don was doing one of his regular flip-outs. If Don had gotten all enlightened and tuned in, I would have doubted the storyline, but he remained true to who he always was.

I will miss the show a lot. I really enjoyed spending time with these characters although some of my favorites went by the wayside (Sal? Ginsberg?). I think what happened to them seemed reasonable and consistent (inconsistency is my pet peeve). I did feel rather a bit sorry for poor Sally – doomed to become the mother she had so much disdain for. I would love to see a series tackle the 70s – maybe not from the advertising point of view, but television news? Or computing? Just an idea.



You Will Hate Me, Then You Will Love Me

Remember when Project Runway first came out? Remember when the designers had talent instead of borderline personality disorders? Austin Scarlett’s corn husk dress? I mean, did you just want to cry big, fat tears when that beautiful dress dried up over night? Or what about that Chrysler building inspired dress by Jay McCarroll? Or that ridiculously fierce pairing of Christian Siriano and Chris March? Korto’s seatbelt coat? Yup, those were the good old days.

Since moving to Lifetime, TV Tears for Women Who Like to Cry, PR has died a slow painful death. It’s no longer about talent, but about putting crazy personalities together, shaking them up and then filming what happens. Every once in a while there’s a dress thrown in but it’s nothing memorable.  To watch it now, you’d think they’d collected their designers from some sort of outpatient program where moderately crazy people have been taught to sew.

Imagine my surprise and giddy delight in finding a show called The Great British Sewing Bee on YouTube last week! The contestants are amateurs of great skill and each episode they are challenged to create complicated garments in short periods of time. I’ve already watched season 3 and have just started on season 2. I think the prize is a trophy. I adore this show!

The contestants are genuine and kind. The personality conflicts are non-existent (at least in season 3). The judges’ comments aren’t designed to make them look witty and clever (Michael Kors thinks he’s Dorothy Parker at the Algonquin Round Table!) but are actually helpful. I’ve learned so much just by watching (note to self: Google “understitching”. Apparently it’s why my necklines never turn out quite right). I think the contestants compete one day a week and go home for the other 6 days so they don’t have all that time to sit, stew and hate each other.

There have been some tears – I would probably cry too if I put my sleeves on backward or sewed something wrong-side out. But the difference is that I’m at home. Where there’s ice cream and Netflix. Take that away from me and I might meltdown just a wee bit, too.

The contestants also seem to get some advanced knowledge of challenges as they have had time to select a pattern or to perfect techniques. It’s nice to see how they overcome the obstacles and triumph. They also help each other which is so much more refreshing than the crazy stuff that happens on US reality shows. I urge you to check out this show for yourself!