16 May 2012

Mad English Men

I like to filter popular culture through the masses. That is to say when something new comes along and everyone if talking about it I'll wait it out as it is probably not worth my time and, lets face it,  most popular culture is utter dross. This is how it came to be that I started watching The Wire in its 4th season and had a wonderful 3 sleepless nights catching up on the DVD box sets of series 1-3. It is also how I managed to avoid 'Lost' as when it ended even the most ardent fans turned on it. I got into the Smiths a good 10 years after they broke up. Britney (well any ex-mousekateer), movies with Justin Timberlake in them, anything labelled as a talent show or reality TV - so far unseen and unmissed.

I saw an article recently on Mad Men and why despite being such a huge hit in the US it was a very poor attention grabber in the UK - apparently it is just not watched there. I can't find the article now but that sounded to me like something that needed exploring. After watching series 1-4 in about 3 weeks, I am happy to report that I have no idea why the us Brits haven't clasped John Hamm and January Jones to our collective bosom because it's a slow burn, witty drama.

Like all great plays it has a fantastic cast of one dimensional characters that hints there may be more to this than meets the eye. And that gets us all to play along in the 'Which Character am I'? game in our heads.

Every male going would want to be the hard drinking handsome but damaged womaniser Don 'Dick' Draper. But I wasn't born with those kind of genes and without that I may as well wish to be a 6'11" basketball star. Roger Sterling is by far the wittiest character, sang-froid drips from his utterances - but again I wasn't born with a silver spoon up my ass, so that's out. Cooper is just too old for me to relate to - that won't last long I bet. Joan Harris is simply so other-worldly as to make a great addition to my fantasy life. Maybe one of the creative or sales crew? Indeed from a work perspective account director Pete Campbell is quite like me, though I am probably more Lane Pryce in my delivery and awkwardness. And I certainly don't have the skill and tenacity that makes a Peggy Olsen.

In the end I think I am probably more like Betty Draper. Impulsive, petulant, spoiled and thinking the world owes me a living. All of the other characters fight dirty to get what they want - a truly American trait that Hard work, skulduggery and luck delivers the dream - while Betty sits back to receive what she feels she should. Us Brits (and especially us English) do have, at least a reputation of, an inflated sense of entitlement.

Maybe that's why it's not so popular in the UK.


Anything else I have missed in the last 20 years I should catch up on? Anything involving space/time travel, trolls, Elves or magic swords can be left at the door please.

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