I was worried that sooner or later that headline would make it onto the airwaves; I just didn’t know it would be mine. I love Mad Men. It is my favorite show currently on television and I can’t get enough of it. I love everything about it – Don and Betty’s rocky marriage, the pool of secretaries searching for husbands, except when one actually breaks through and gets promoted. I love how the distance between the early ‘60s and now makes our lives seem so much better, even if it feels so much worse. And I guess I love the smoking and the drinking. There, I said it.
As an on-again, off-again part-time smoker, my love affair with the cancer stick is a tragic one. It can survive our relationship; I cannot. I mostly don’t smoke anymore, not since having a kid. But every once in a while, it calls my name. It is a deadly, pointless thing to do to one’s health, and I always regret it in the morning.
But in my battle to never ever “go there” my thoughts naturally dropped on Mad Men, and I began to wonder what kind of effect my beloved Mad Men was having on my quest to never ever touch a cancer stick. And then it occurred to me – well of course it glamorizes smoking. It is like one long informercial for smoking. We all know that it’s bad for them, but they don’t know it yet, so it’s like the good old days when no one knew what they were doing was oh so very wrong.
That makes Mad Men the ultimate trap. The more we love these characters, the more we’re willing to forgive their flaws, and maybe underneath it all we wish we could smoke all of the time like they do. After all, they look so damned good and they’re getting all of that sex so what’s the problem? It’s advertising doing its job, which is ironic since that is exactly what the show is about.
The show is also about heavy drinking day in and day out. I’ve never had a problem with drinking and all I think about while watching them down five drinks on a weekday is that I would be sick after one. They also have all of that extramarital sex in the office and again, that’s not the addiction I can’t kick. I sympathize with those who have that itch and watch this show, however.
This past week, Don’s wife Betty announced she was pregnant. Of course she’ll smoke through her whole pregnancy as Jackie Kennedy did with all of hers. Another mother was shown smoking during her pregnancy, and she had a healthy baby. Don and Betty, though, don’t seem headed for any kind of happily ever after. It will be interesting to see how they deal with this one, especially now that their little girl was caught smoking mommy’s cigarettes in the bathroom.
Ah, the good old days that paid for a career boom of therapists. These Mad Men and their mad women aren’t happy or content; they’re miserable and “this close” to a heart attack. But they sure do look good, don’t they? And they get all that sex!
Does my recent epiphany mean I’ll have to kick the Mad Men habit so that I’ll successfully kick the cigarette habit with no slip-ups, even at parties? No, my adoration for the show will force me to rationalize it by saying, “Hey, they killed a lot of people on The Sopranos too and I never felt the urge to get myself a gun.”