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Not one likable character?

  • Avatar of hibbs02

    hibbs02

    [1]Aug 4, 2007
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    Wow, this show is pretty horrific. The creator, who is too young to remember anything about this time period, goes out of his way to show every possible bad thing about this time period. . .constantly and universally. Racism, pregnant women smoking/drinking, sexism, gays forced into the closet. Everyone is fairly unlikable. Hypocrites, drug addicts, alcholics, calculating sluts, scummy men cheating on their wives.

    I appreciate that all of this stuff went on then but it all goes on now as well. I get the feeling that the creator is trying to make some statements but frankly I think he is being unfair to the people of the time and idealizing today in comparison. Sure the main character doesn't have to be living in "Leave it to Beaver"ville but still. Was there not one good human being in the 50's? Not according to "Mad Men." I can't even see a good side to these people.

    In reality these people were the Greatest Generation who beat the Nazis, passed civil rights, opened up the workplace to women, etc etc. We are only where we are because of our parents and grandparents. Show some respect, sonny. I can't see this show getting any traction. The people making it don't like/don't respect their creations. They don't see anything good in them at all. No audience large enough to support this show will every support them in response.

    Edited on 08/04/2007 11:38am
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  • Avatar of tjaman

    tjaman

    [2]Aug 4, 2007
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    Wow, do I disagree with you.

    These are experiences and perceptions and storytelling about a time-period most Americans would like to pretend never existed.

    People were this rude. People are this rude. Life was like this. Life is, people are, in general, pretty depressing and small.

    To pretend that everyone liked Ike and loved their wives and their lives and behaved appropriately and had this whiz-bang joie de vivre can-do attitude ...

    ... is to believe that the lives people were advertising were the lives people were living. Better living through chemicals and television.

    Life has always sucked. People have always sucked. That's the story of this show.

    That being said ...

    .. I'm enjoying the crap out of it.

    It makes everyone seem human and flawed and interesting.

    * shrug * Clearly it's upsetting to you, so ... to each their own.
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    fredcatcheur

    [3]Aug 4, 2007
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    hibbs02 wrote:
    Was there not one good human being in the 50's? Not according to "Mad Men." I can't even see a good side to these people.
    I agree with you on this point: all the characters seem pretty flawed, with not one good person to counterbalance it. Cos the problem is not that people are flawed : that's what makes them interesting. The problem is that in life, like everywhere else, balance is needed. Especially in fiction, where you need to have at least a redeemable character for people to identify with, generally their entrance point into the show's universe. Here, you could argue that it's the young secretary... but she's not really one of the main characters. In a way, it places the viewer in her position, watching as somehow-despicable men - to today's morals - do somehow-despicable things to their lives... That's a concept. I can deal with it. Except life doesn't always suck, and people aren't always rude, or don't always cheat on their wives/husbands. Balance is needed. And despite all the love i have for this show, it has absolutely no balance.
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  • Avatar of tjaman

    tjaman

    [4]Aug 4, 2007
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    Sure they did. You ... caught the conversation between the junior executives, right? They love their wives, but they also love being young and powerful, kings of their world and open to all of the perks, which includes canoodling.

    They have to be discreet, but so long as everyone's respectable in public, they can be as naughty as they like behind closed doors.

    I mean, Betty's friend was openly ogling Don and practically propositioning him in front of her.

    That and we're not seeing all 160 million Americans. We're seeing executives, rich people with lots of pressure on them who release it in ways we maybe want to believe people didn't.

    Not to be confrontational, but let me turn this around for a second: Does anyone seem impossible? Cause I've seen three episodes now and I haven't seen anyone who seems impossible.

    Just ... flawed, insecure, overcompensate-y and human.
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  • Avatar of desert05

    desert05

    [5]Aug 4, 2007
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    tjaman wrote:
    Wow, do I disagree with you.

    These are experiences and perceptions and storytelling about a time-period most Americans would like to pretend never existed.

    People were this rude. People are this rude. Life was like this. Life is, people are, in general, pretty depressing and small.

    To pretend that everyone liked Ike and loved their wives and their lives and behaved appropriately and had this whiz-bang joie de vivre can-do attitude ...

    ... is to believe that the lives people were advertising were the lives people were living. Better living through chemicals and television.

    Life has always sucked. People have always sucked. That's the story of this show.

    That being said ...

    .. I'm enjoying the crap out of it.

    It makes everyone seem human and flawed and interesting.

    * shrug * Clearly it's upsetting to you, so ... to each their own.


    I couldn't agree more!
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  • Avatar of hibbs02

    hibbs02

    [6]Aug 4, 2007
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    No, not one single person seems impossible. But the show as a whole seems impossible. The reality is that if everyone sucks then civilization isn't possible. You have to good people who hold the world together. You know, even being good is acting in your own self interest so it isn't impossible for such people to be very common.

    My big criticisms narrow down to two points: characters' likability and the creators liking the characters. I'll first compare it to Deadwood or Desperate Housewives. Both of those shows have very flawed characters. Everyone is pretty screwed up! Yet I am OK with it as the creators work to let the characters have good sides/qualities. Some are more purely evil and yet even they have their good moments. Mad Men doesn't have that. At best the characters are occassionally sympathetic. This leads to my second point: the creators don't like these characters. The show seems to exist mainly for them to make their nihilist points. Hey, if you hate your parents I don't care. But if you try to make an entire show illustrating how much better you are than the people who created the civilization you enjoy I don't expect you to get enough of a viewership to keep it going.

    The bottom line is that I really like the period piece, milieu of advertising aspects of the show. I like that they decided to make a soap in these circumstances. But to succeed they've got to do more than hate everyone.
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  • Avatar of tjaman

    tjaman

    [7]Aug 4, 2007
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    I'm not seeing the hatred you are, but you seem to be taking it personally.

    Not to put too fine a point on things, but how close to home is this show hitting for you? I only ask because there's another poster in the "Women" thread who caught it by accident and was almost transfixed with trauma from this show.

    I guess I'm not seeing these characters as flat and irredeemably unlikeable as you are. Everyone reacts to different things.

    Honestly, one of my big draws to this show, apart from the advertising discussion (Ben Bagdikian needs to be required reading in every high school), is the appearance of Vincent Kartheiser and Christina Hendricks, who I loved from Joss Whedon productions. It would take more than a couple actors to keep me, but like I said, I'm just finding so much to love in this show.
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  • Avatar of speddoc

    speddoc

    [8]Aug 5, 2007
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    I've read the above posts with some interest, and gave myself time to think the comments through before responding. I'm afraid I, too, have to disagree with the assessment there are no likable characters on the show. These aren't simple characters, to be sure. To characterize them in totality as unlikable is simplistic and facile. These are characters developing layers with each viewing, and each has shown something redeeming in their make-up as well as some unsettling qualities.

    I'd have to disagree strongly with the view that the writers don't like these characters. I think the flaw in that argument lies in the assumption Weiner and Co. are attempting to make some sort of statement about the times: nihilist seems a very strong way to describe Weiner's agenda. Given the way Weiner talks about the period, he seems if anything to romanticize it. And as such, he overdraws the picture in over-bright colors. That was especially noticeable in the most recent episode, where every suburban sin was trotted out for our edification. But I see nothing to suggest that he's reviling or punishing the real people of this place and time, just throwing a sharp light on a period of time where, in at least one segment of New York society, the ideal was anything but.

    What does seem clear is something has hit a nerve, for whatever reason. I'd suggest that's the filter through which you're seeing this, and it's affected your ability to distance yourself from the narrative, including the characters.

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  • Avatar of tvcomman

    tvcomman

    [9]Aug 7, 2007
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    I gave this show a try and it just comes across as dark. Every character is either somber or dirty. Not one bright light or an air of hope. Granted, one should expect that coming from a writer of "The Sopranos".

    I do realize that it's not a fun network show to gather big ratings. The last period piece like that was "Homefront" on ABC back in '91-'93. Now THAT was clever, quick, funny and romantic. But being an AMC Original, they'll do what they please. I guess I just expected a little more balance, some ying and yang/good vs. evilto play off of.

    Still, for pete's sake, it's 1960. If these characters can't stomach life now, I'd hate to see how they fare by 1970(not to mention their lungs and livers!)

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    desert05

    [10]Aug 9, 2007
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    tvcomman wrote:

    I gave this show a try and it just comes across as dark. Every character is either somber or dirty. Not one bright light or an air of hope. Granted, one should expect that coming from a writer of "The Sopranos".

    I do realize that it's not a fun network show to gather big ratings. The last period piece like that was "Homefront" on ABC back in '91-'93. Now THAT was clever, quick, funny and romantic. But being an AMC Original, they'll do what they please. I guess I just expected a little more balance, some ying and yang/good vs. evilto play off of.

    Still, for pete's sake, it's 1960. If these characters can't stomach life now, I'd hate to see how they fare by 1970(not to mention their lungs and livers!)



    Well at least these people have 10 good years before they have to confront disco! Yeesh!
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  • Avatar of speddoc

    speddoc

    [11]Aug 9, 2007
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    If you're judging the show by the last episode (Marriage of Figaro) you really don't have the whole picture. I'm not sure why people see them as uniformly unhappy. Most seem to be reasonably happy most of the time, but with an issue or agenda that gets the lion's share of the attention.
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    iplaw

    [12]Aug 19, 2007
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    I'm enjoying the show.

    They are doing a fine job keeping the show true to the time period and the industry. If you're looking for happy, upbeat shows with a fantasy ending, try the Disney channel. This show is about the ad industry in that time period. These guys were snake oil salesmen, con men, ego-maniacs, chauvinists and so forth. They were not all-American heroes. Who knows, maybe they'll rename the show "Who can be the bigger bastard."
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    gpatton

    [13]Aug 20, 2007
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    hibbs02 wrote:

    Wow, this show is pretty horrific. The creator, who is too young to remember anything about this time period, goes out of his way to show every possible bad thing about this time period. . .constantly and universally. Racism, pregnant women smoking/drinking, sexism, gays forced into the closet. Everyone is fairly unlikable. Hypocrites, drug addicts, alcholics, calculating sluts, scummy men cheating on their wives.

    Well, I hate to break it to you, but that is pretty much how it was. Take the sexism and pregnant women smoking and drinking out of the picture and you have corporate America today. Anyone who has worked in an office environment for a larger firm or corporation can appreciate some of what is happening on the show.

    I said this in a post several weeks ago.....you can't watch this show applying 2007 ideals and culture. You have to watch the show understanding that a woman's role was to serve her husband and that a secretary's (now called Administrative Assistants) role was to server her boss...no questions ask. Yes, there were successful women and not all smoke and drank, but office attitudes as portrayed are pretty much on target and in some ways haven't changed.

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    digharris

    [14]Aug 23, 2007
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    I agree completely. I do like the atmosphere; it feels right, but the characters are horrible. I gave up on the show after the 3rd episode.
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    Lazlow63

    [15]Jul 24, 2008
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    I have to admit that I don't get the show. I'm certainly not knocking it-- I watched the entire first season on Comcast On Demand over the course of three days. And I look forward to the second season. But I'm finding it hard to find a character to root for.

    But that's my only complaint. Well, that and I wish they would delve deeper into the details of the ad campaigns.

    It's set in an interesting time: there is a huge cultural upheaval just around the corner and none of these smug young ad execs or their "girls" can see it coming. They think they have the future all figured out.

    It's a well-written show.

    I was born in '63-- but my small and isolated hometown was a good decade behind the times. So occasionally I'll get "the shock of recognition, " especially when they show the children. We too had big birthday parties-- except the fathers weren't in attendance because the parties were generally held on weekdays after school. And we too rode around without seat-belts.

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    MegPierce

    [16]Jul 29, 2008
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    This show is amazing. One of the things I like about it is that the people are real. This isn't a sugar coated show with sugar coated characters. I think it's probably very true to life and how people were and are. And for all the haters out there...the show was the most nominated drama on tv for the golden globes. So someone's been doing something right.....
    Edited on 07/29/2008 9:06am
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    therockstop

    [17]Jul 30, 2008
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    digharris wrote:
    I agree completely. I do like the atmosphere; it feels right, but the characters are horrible. I gave up on the show after the 3rd episode.
    If you only watched the first 3 episodes then it would be hard to way in on the quality of this show. IMO the show gets much better about midway through season 1. Maybe you should watch a few more episodes before making a final decision.
    Edited on 07/30/2008 10:34am
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    Lazlow63

    [18]Aug 4, 2008
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    I'm glad I stuck with the show. I just saw this season's second episode and I found it very compelling.
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    mackymacaspac

    [19]Aug 13, 2008
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    therockstop wrote:
    digharris wrote:
    I agree completely. I do like the atmosphere; it feels right, but the characters are horrible. I gave up on the show after the 3rd episode.
    If you only watched the first 3 episodes then it would be hard to way in on the quality of this show. IMO the show gets much better about midway through season 1. Maybe you should watch a few more episodes before making a final decision.


    I agree. I almost gave up on the show after 3-4 episodes but decided to stick with it. I'm glad I did. It's only after half of season one that you'll begin to appreciate what the creators have done.

    Yep, there isn't one clear-cut likeable character on the show. But then again, you can't (at least I can't) easily drop the show and say, "I don't like any of them, I can't stand these people." I'm still intrigued with what would happen week after week. And like others have said, they're portraying an era and a field as real as the writers perceived it to be. So no complaints from me.
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    garoovy

    [20]Aug 30, 2008
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    Hmmm....I disagree about there being no "likable characters" on Mad Men.

    Marital infidelity, racism, sexism, etc. have been and always will be reprehensible.

    Humans possess these traits, along with laudable ones. That makes us (and the people who inhabit Mad Men) "human".

    Don visited Peggy in the hospital, as well as his immediate boss. Peggy helped Don and the comedian's wife after their car accident. Don (tacitly and also more obviously) encouraged Peggy's blossoming copywriter status/bid for a raise. Joan advises several women about office politics.

    I like that the characters on this show are more than 1-dimensional, always smiling, always perfect goody-goodys. It's realism at its most entertaining!
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