It must be because The White Cabinet has had such success that the major television networks have introduced two new show this seasons that are set in the early 1960’s. Or maybe it’s Mad Men. Who knows. In any case, I’ve just finished watching both and I have some thoughts. Both are about women trying to spread their wings.
Mad Men, as we all know, holds a very high standard. The characters, storyline, fashion all paint a broader image of the early 60’s. Sure, there’s probably some stereotyping there, but hell, women did have fewer choices and were probably really uncomfortable in those girdles. And here’s the most important part – it’s just really fun to watch. Now The Playboy Club and Pan Am have jumped on the bandwagon. I, for one, couldn’t wait for the fall season to start. Here are my reviews, for what it’s worth.
Playboy Club makes you realize how really good Mad Men is because they make it look so easy. I had reservations about watching a show about the bunnies parading around and the men who oogle them, but it was promoted as more than that. Life from the perspective of the women. Okay, that could maybe be interesting. Again, not as many opportunities in that time and this was a good way to make a living. What were they really thinking about the guys as they served up the Manhattans? How did this financial freedom change their lives? How did it affect their family life? How did it change them and their perspective of men in general? Did it change them? Now turn that into an entertaining show, like the aforementioned AMC hit. Here’s what I got. The new cigarette girl (CG) is asked to dance by this kind of surly looking guy (SG). She agrees and when he puts his hand on her butt, she changes partners to the handsome young attorney (HYA) who is an up an coming politician who also happens to be the boyfriend of the head bunny. Cut to the CG restocking her tray in the back room when SG barges in and attacks her. HYA happens to wander in and a fight ensues. CG is thrown on her back and stabs SG with her stiletto in the jugular. He dies. HYA tells her that that was the mob boss (it’s Chicago, after all) and if anyone finds him there, they’d both be goners. So without anyone noticing, they drag the body to HYA’s car, drive him to the river, wrap him in chains (that happened to be in the trunk) and dumped the body. After that, back to the club where a man approaches HYA. He wants him to work for the family again. HYA says he can’t. Man says if he doesn’t, he can forget about his political career. Oh please. At this point, I had to turn it off. I tried, but it really was just so not Mad Men. I could take it no longer. And even if it’s the fashions I was watching for, all I saw, for the most part, was Bunny garb. And it was all about HYA, not the women. And it was dark. The club was dark. It takes place at night… There was no lightness both literally and figuratively. I probably should have watched until the end, but the story was so unimaginative that I couldn’t imagine that changing in the second part. I could stand it no longer. It’s been deleted it from my Tivo list.
Now on to Pan Am. Loved it! Okay, From the first moment it started, the era unfolds. The clothes are FABULOUS. And all types of clothes, from beatnik to wedding dress and everything in between. The hair. The makeup. Now this is fun! Through flashbacks, we learn about the characters. There’s even Cold War intrigue. Not a route I could have foreseen watching the promos. The characters have the potential to be interesting and to give us more insight into those years. There’s the smart Greenwich Village girl (Christina Ricci) who has a beatnik boyfriend. I hope they show more of that world (and clothing). There are sisters, one of whom has just been recruited by the CIA to do some espionage and one who walked out on her wedding day to find a more interesting life. There’s the French stewardess who had the affair with the, unbeknownst to her, married man and the original stewardess spy who is retiring from that game (we think). The male characters aren’t as intriguing. They are pretty but pretty much stereotypes which I think is great. It focuses all the attention on the ladies. I get the feeling that was the intention. Yeah, there were some cheesy parts, like the flashback in Cuba. The plane was set to take off with rebels from the botched Bay of Pigs invasion. One stewardess (the original spy) was missing and the co pilot boyfriend goes to find her. They’re standing on the tarmac. It’s dark. He asks her to marry him… Maybe a nod to Casablanca (she said hopefully)? That’s okay. The moment passed. I’m on board with this one. I can’t wait until next week!
What do you think about these shows? I’d love to here.