Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dressed Up to Watch TV: 'Mad Men' S7E1 –– Psychedelic Neon Gown + Review

THE LOOK ~ Back in the day, people dressed up to board a plane or go to the cinema. These days, I spend a great deal of time watching TV at home. Why not dress up in my late 1960's-era garb to watch the show that turned me back on to TV? For this final (split) season of 'Mad Men', I will. And for the season premiere, I went for a full-on color celebration by donning a neon psychedelic Lanz gown (from Electric Ladyland.)
THE ANECDOTE ~ As someone who spent her formidable years, plus a couple more decades, deeply immersed in the gritty, progressive, kaleidoscopic world of the 1960's, particularly enamored with the latter part, one would say I've been dedicated. If dedication is work, I've earned a celebration. For most of the 2000's, I did not even own a TV; I was thoroughly entertained via films, shows and music that have existed for decades in our collective archives.
In 2007, a TV show depicting the very era that had been my 'personal culture' came along. Now is the beginning of the end of that series –– one that, fortunately, (thanks in large part to the dedication of Matthew Weiner) has never missed a beat or disappointed this disciple of mid-to-late 1960's culture.
THE REVIEW ~ In S7E1, it's January 1969. The story picks up shortly after last season's events. The first face on screen is surprisingly Freddie Rumsen's, giving a terrific pitch –– another surprise –– although we discover later he is Don's proxy. So those first moments are actually Don Draper delivering stellar work despite being so coldly (and cruelly, IMO) shut out by SC&P, formerly SCDP.
Making plot predictions can be enticing, especially with the often non-subtle hints on 'Mad Men', but let's just watch and see what happens to these characters in this final season. Yes, as predicted: darkness looms heavy in the canyons, where Megan now resides –– very near, in time and place, to where Sharon Tate meets her doom.
Don remains smitten with his wife, despite whatever marital problems they've had and their current bi-coastal situation. That point is driven home in this episode by Spencer Davis Group in the (now famous) airport pickup scene: 'I'm a man, yes I am, and I can't help but love you so!' (See below. I had originally planned to include Traffic's 'Dear Mr. Fantasy' for this piece.)
The unexpected bits in the premiere are what I particularly enjoyed, like the protective conversation Weiner seemed to be having with his bullying audience members on the very topic of Megan (and the beautiful actress who plays her, Jessica Pare.) Megan has been a strong contributing character since Season 4 –– or since 1965. It's been difficult to avoid noticing the pointedly angry and cruel remarks certain viewers have made about her during this time.
The writers of the show have made it plain, time and again, that Megan Draper is to be loved. Don loves Megan (in his way; and at times, even obsessively.) Megan was never just 'going away'. She has been integral to many of the transitions that have occurred during that progressive era.
Included in the script for S7E1 were inside jabs directed at Megan-haters during the dinner scene, when her agent announces that she got her first Hollywood callback. 'I thought the guy hated me!?' She exclaims. 'But his boss loved you,' he says. (Megan-hate-viewers vs. Matthew Weiner, right there.) He adds: 'I'll say one thing about this girl. She evokes strong feelings.' And I have to hand it to Jessica Pare –– she has seemed to keep herself, (and her confidence), well in tact, despite the bullies. Megan's agent says next: 'We can hold off on fixing your teeth.' To this, Megan gives a sad and very professional nod: 'Okay.' Proving yet again that while Hollywood can be cruel, today's online bullies are just as bad. It might have seemed odd to bring this level of reality into the show, but I delighted in this decision on the part of the writers.
We also caught up with what's happening in the lives of Pete (he's tan and happier in L.A.), Joan (the unlikely partner has become a rather gutsy businesswoman) Peggy (misses both Don and Ted), Roger (so hip, it hurts; still acts like a square with his daughter), Stan (such a cool cat), Ted (bi-coastal Mr. Professional.)
Meanwhile, TV itself even played a large role in the Season 7 premiere. Don watches a lot of it, with too much time on his hands out of the office. He gifts Megan with a very large TV set, to her dismay. I enjoyed celebrating the return of 'Mad Men' this way –– so I'll be dressing up to watch TV, again, when S7E2 airs next Sunday.
(Originally posted for Vintage Fashion at Examiner.com.)

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