Why I resisted Mad Men
You may have noticed that I occasionally comment on episodes of Mad Men. Yes, like most TV addicts I acknowledge the superior quality of this show and the way it has the ability to suck us into the storyline like these characters are real people.
For the first few years I strongly resisted watching the show. I’d seen one of the early episodes and it gave me a lot of negative feelings because it was so accurate. The only people I didn’t loathe were the women and they were treated so poorly I couldn’t bear to witness it. Over time though I saw the show depict how the women were able to redefine their roles in society and it became a lot easier to stomach the casual sexism, racism, etc.
It was also when I discovered Tom & Lorenzo’s break down of the episodes I did dip a toe into it because it is obvious that the costume designer, Janie Bryant, knows her stuff. In addition to the fashion, the soundscape of the show brought me back to the New York City I grew up with… the typewriters and constant horn honking. Watching Mad Men feels like time travel. Everyone involved in the creation of this show is on point.
Once in a while the show even has furniture that my grandparents had in their apartment. For instance, this gold-leaf screen depicting wild mustangs made an appearance in Burtram Cooper’s office in season two.
[Screen in back corner, beach house, c. 1980 New York]
[Hélène & Roger Baronnie with Gigi, beach house, c. 1980 New York]
And now that Mad Men is getting into how the counter culture fabrics and wild prints were making their way up into the more mainstream setting? My grandmother was very fashion forward and would have been one of the first people daring enough to adopt the new styles. As an artist, she was probably one of the people who bridged the divide between strange new look and the mainstream.
Here she is in some of the intense patterns of the era:
[Hélène Baronnie, York Avenue, c. 1970 New York, NY]
[Hélène Baronnie, left, York Avenue, c. 1970 New York, NY – get a load of that blue suit on the right… can you dig it?]
Watching this television show gives me all sorts of flashbacks. I knew the Don Drapers et al. of that time and place. They came over for cocktails.
Bonus photo of my grandmother, great grandmother, and mother, because oh-my-gawd, the fabulous.
[Hélène Baronnie, Elise Lasserre, Maria Baroni, York Avenue, c. 1973 New York, NY]