For the most part, I live a simple life. I immensely enjoy life’s minutiae offerings: a well-cooked steaming plate of Chapo-beans with no less than three chapatis, a cold stout Guinness, sleeping for eight hours, sleeping au naturel, swirling my balls absentmindedly and sniffing the fingertips, partaking Mary J (not Blige), flirting, and the occasional raw dip.
But what I enjoy, perhaps more than anything else, is rewatching my favorite movies and TV shows.
If I were to count on one hand the number of times I’ve watched QT’s Inglorious Bastards, PTA’s There Will Be Blood, Scorcese’s Wolf of Wall Street, or How I Met Your Mother, I’d definitely need the other hand.
I’ve rewatched some of these films and shows so much that scenes and lines of dialogue have been engrained into my long-term memory. They’re etched so deep in my mind that in that semi-conscious period before you sleep, when the thinker is racing, replaying your day and then your life, my favorite scenes start rolling in my mind like an old black-and-white TCM film.
“You’re sheltering enemies of the state, are you not?”
“You’re sheltering them underneath your floorboards, aren’t you?”
“Point out to me the areas where they’re hiding.”
Monsieur LaPadite points
“Since I haven’t heard any disturbance, I assume that while they’re listening, they don’t speak English?”
“I’m going to switch back to French now, and I want you to follow my masquerade – is that clear?”
The consequent bloodbath then proceeds to play ever so vividly in my brain before I drift to sleep.
I’m rewatching Mad Men after getting out of a bad relationship with Netflix (I’ve had more fun watching waterdrops fall from a loose tap than watching most of Netflix’s original content) and joining Prime, where they have all seasons of the show in “full resolution HD,” as Domani Munga would put it.
If you haven’t watched Mad Men, here’s a small synopsis. The show is set in a New York advertising agency in the 1960s — a period when the American economy was doing so well that they had entire streets and skyscrapers dedicated to advertising and advertising agencies.
In every way, this period was the pinnacle of the American Dream, and the show perfectly captures this. It’s a world of plenty (for the whites, of course). Most men have well-paying white-collar jobs. They all wear suits (even on the weekends) and hats and soak their hair in liters of relaxer. After work, they all head out to drinking holes and indulge in men’s top two pleasures: women and whiskey. I shouldn’t have to tell you that everybody smoked, even teens.
Women were stay-at-home wives and mothers. Younger women were secretaries and play toys for their bosses. Families lived in the suburbs, with a lawn and a picket fence and a golden retriever named Max.
Still, what makes Mad Men so captivating isn’t the life of excesses or accurate portrayal of the US in the 60s; it’s the characters. Don Draper is the first character you’ll meet and the show’s main protagonist. If I were to describe him in one word, I’d probably struggle because, like all of us, Don is rather complex. On the surface, he’s a suave, macho guy with hair as dark as his past. He wears sharp suits and has a deep, broody voice that makes him mysterious in a way that makes women’s knickers wet from the inside. He also doesn’t speak much for someone who’s job is to sell words.
You’ll also notice that Don is great at his job, so good that he could sell woolen jackets to herders in the Sahara — but that’s about all he’s good at. As the show develops, you realize that he’s an actor like most of us are: perfect on the surface but fundamentally flawed on the inside.
Roger Sterling is another character I like. In a show that can be quite serious, Roger’s playfulness and hilarious one-liners stand out.
Once when one of the secretaries abruptly dies in the office, he goes on an existential ramble on death and how he wouldn’t want to die in the workplace and says, “Dammit, I don’t want to die in this office. If it looks like I’m going, open a window. I’d rather flatten the top of a cab.” Another one that caught me was, “My wife likes fur, but you don’t see me growing a tail,” and “At some point, we’ve all parked in the wrong garage.”
I like Joan Holloway as well, and I bet you would, too. She’s a gorgeous redhead with the most bountiful bosom you’ve ever seen and the sultriest voice you’ve ever heard. In a universe where misogyny is the flow, Joan is the only one who goes against it. Chimamanda Adichie would love her.
I guess what I’m trying to say is Mad Men isn’t quintessential TV fodder pegged on cliffhangers and diluted plots. It’s an accurate historical snapshot of corporate America and the human condition in the 60s and a comprehensive character study of the show’s main characters. If you haven’t seen it already, you probably should, and if you have, you should rewatch it to remember its enduring brilliance, indelible characters, and unique soundtrack.