Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mad Men Viewers, Expand Your Minds: Other Megan Associations (i.e. Ali MacGraw)

(Originally posted for Vintage Fashion at

This is for 'Mad Men' viewers who care to put a pause on (or a full stop to) the exhausted Sharon Tate theories. (Why would the show writers give viewers an outcome they've so heavily predicted, after all? They won't.) Any late-1960's aficionado can tell you that there are plenty of other associations to be made. To viewers who are incessantly fixated on just one 1969 reference, especially in terms of Megan: stop limiting yourselves.

Behold something new. Megan Draper, the struggling starlet, is being fashioned after several actresses from 1969-70, but the one who jumped out (for me) is Ali MacGraw, who essentially began her suddenly stratospheric acting career at 30. Megan is pushing 30, and looking for her big break. (MacGraw was also a New Yorker who moved to LA.)

The photo of MacGraw (on the left) is from 1969. Megan wore this exact look in the season premiere, 'Time Zones', as she was getting ready to go to her acting class. MacGraw's photo appeared in the August 1969 issue of Vogue. The image was a big deal at the time: she's wearing her own clothes, standing outside of her NYC apartment, barefoot, after it had rained. This was not the photo Vogue originally intended to use, but they found it charming. Ali MacGraw was about to become Hollywood's it girl and star in 'Love Story'.

Moreover, Ali MacGraw's first film was 'Goodbye, Columbus', in which she starred alongside Richard Benjamin. 'Goodbye Columbus' was based on a novella by Philip Roth. Roth also wrote 'Portnoy's Complaint' –– and its film adaptation starred Richard Benjamin, as well. 'Portnoy's Complaint' is incidentally the book Don was reading in 'The Monolith' episode of 'Mad Men' –– which foreshadowed Michael Ginsberg's terrible predicament in the following episode, 'The Runaways' (since Roth's story deals with issues related to Ginsberg.)

If viewers choose to fixate on just one upcoming event (like the Manson murders), they are sure to miss out on so many other worthwhile details. Think back to the way 'Mad Men' dealt with comparably game-changing events, concepts and moments –– like The Beatles, JFK's assassination, Martin Luther King's assassination: they occurred peripherally, and there was no lingering on the topic. And through certain characters, viewers identify with feelings evoked by the event.

Megan Draper happens to be an actress living near where the murders will inevitably take place. It's L.A., it's the canyons. Of course there were actresses and other such neighbors who felt particularly traumatized by what happened. Of course it will be terrifying for Megan –– and for everyone else –– afterwards. And that is all. Ultimately, there are plenty of connections to mull over. 1969 was a kaleidoscope of people and events. Viewers should 'expand their minds' and just enjoy the show!

No comments:

Post a Comment