The Orange Couch does Mad Men, S7E11: Time-Life
New Orange Couch! And, in a move that you know delighted the fuck out of us at Orange Couch headquarters, Mad Men very subtly shouted out the Red Wedding on Game of Thrones.
Outside of that very 21st century in-joke, we’ve been noticing that the show has really ramped down some of its signature moves that we loved to break down on the Orange Couch, such as heavy reliance on symbolism and the use of a lot of allusions. McCann Erickson is sort of a death metaphor, but it’s also sort of a metaphor for the death of creativity. Not exactly subtle there, and our analysis has changed a bit to reflect that.
I will confess that I can’t quite get a read on what Matthew Weiner is trying to say about the 1960s. It seems the show, as it moves into the 70s, is portraying a cultural shift away from and energetic, creative era and towards a kind of malaise. That’s a fairly standard Boomer narrative of the 60s: That it was a time of upheaval and madness, but it was also an explosion of creative and artistic energies that petered out in the 70s.
I was kind of hoping, I realized, that Weiner, who is 49 and therefore right on the cusp between being a Boomer and a Gen X-er, might complicate that narrative more. Undoubtedly, the 60s were a time of creative flourishing, and no one is trying to take that away from anyone. Rock and R&B were an explosion of ideas. Art films and experimental mainstream films were really starting to take off. All that is true.
But the traditional characterization of the 70s as some kind of dead weight is, I believe, unfair. Sure, mainstream rock kind of collapsed on itself, but disco, hip-hop and punk were all invented in the 70s. Objectively speaking, 70s music has more impact on what people like now than 60s music does. And I know that Weiner is aware that 70s films were an even bigger fucking deal than 60s films were, from an artistic perspective. The 60s had Bonnie and Clyde and 2001: A Space Odyssey, but the movie-loving characters of Mad Men are about to enter the era of The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Chinatown, A Clockwork Orange, you name it. But there’s a sense, on Mad Men, that as the show winds down that he’s implying that American culture was winding down, too. And I just strongly disagree. But maybe I’m making too much of it.
Thoughts? Also, don’t forget to watch our analysis of Game of Thrones at House Slate.