I was visiting my friend Ron and his girlfriend Yvette last year when I had my formal introduction to the much hyped show "Mad Men." Ron had the full first season on DVD, and we took in maybe three or four episodes. I sometimes found it difficult to shut down the historian in me and simply accept the show for what it was, but I eventually settled in and enjoyed the program.
Tonight is the premiere of the 4th season, and one would have to be blind not to notice all of the stories popping across the Internet on various aspects of the show. I personally enjoyed this one over at Salon arguing that "Mad Men" has directly affected pop culture (though I think an interest in the styles of the middle 20th century has been around for a little longer than the emergence of "Mad Men."
Interestingly, when I hear people talk about "Mad Men," I sense a hunger for the insouciant elegance that emanates from the actors' performances and looks. Hell, I have that hunger myself. I loved the final result of my "Mad Men Yourself" avatar (martini glass in hand, of course).
Like the devotees of the "Mad Men" style, I have a definite appreciation of the style of that period. Look back at the images of the people in the news during the early 1960s. Everyone looked clean and sharp, from the Kennedys to the Civil Rights marchers. And, I have enjoyed those films that have looked to that era stylistically.
"The Incredibles" is an excellent example of using that period style, from the Eichler-like family home, to the look and attitude of "Edna Mode." "Down With Love," an homage to the Rock Hudson/Doris Day films, is an excellent example as well, though it is definitely a lighter depiction of the era. And these are just two films that come to my mind immediately.
With all of this said, I doubt that I will be catching the show tonight. I would rather hold off and see the first three seasons, before trying to jump in at the last minute. I would have too many questions to really enjoy it. But, I will reaffirm my appreciate for the style of the show and of that era. We lack that elegant styling today, for the most part, and I can understand why an influential minority of "Mad Men" fans have been pushing to bring some of that elegance back.