(THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS!!!)
Continuing with some of my favourite shows, only 2 this time as I’ve got a lot to say about them! First up is…
Californication[youtube id=”_JHbVp7KPvQ” maxwidth=”640″]
I can’t remember a show that was so gutsy and funny at the same time. I mean properly laugh out loud take you by surprise funny, combine that with moments that as a guy who is roughly the same age as Hank Moody, I could identify with and you had a great show.
Californication is basically about being a “manchild” in the adult playground known as LA. Hank was continually faced with knowing what the right thing to do was, but always let events conspire to push him in the opposite direction. Hank Moody’s life was one of Snakes & Ladders, just when he seemed to come to some kind of epiphany, a past or present indiscretion would rise up to cause chaos. He’s essentially a tragic character who going into the final season you really don’t know if he’s going to end up alone or with the love of his life “Karen”.
Sad there won’t be any more of this fun show, but it’s hard to see where they could go next with it, they had pretty much explored every aspect of Hanks life and personality, as well as living the life in LA and that’s ultimately what I think people will look back and see Californication as, a commentary on the madness and creativity that Hollywood has to offer.
Mad Men[youtube id=”2yxreuDozzs” maxwidth=”640″]
What to say about Mad Men? other than it’s up there with one of the great TV shows ever made. There are moments in Mad Men which if you are over a certain age (40+) demonstrate just how much life has changed. A perfect example of that is that scene in one of the early seasons where the Draper family are having a nice picnic, once finished they get up and shake the blanket off sending their rubbish flying everywhere, it’s something which those characters at that time wouldn’t of given a 2nd thought too but to us in this time screams out irresponsibility and a lack of understanding of what that did/does to the environment. Then of course there’s one of the biggest themes of the show, women in society and specifically in the workplace, and how that radically changed during the 50’s-70’s. How women are treated by many of the male characters makes you cringe, but not just women, African Americans, Homosexuals, pretty much anyone who wasn’t outwardly a caucasian hetrosexual male.
Interestingly for all the personal hells that the show portrays due to the time the characters lived, you can also see how we have all lost a kind of innocence and freedom (in the western world at least) which raw cynical modern life lacks.
The brilliance of the show is not just the mirror it targets history with but also demonstrating the role that advertising had during those times and in effect how advertising influences events in our own time. To those of us who have worked inside the advertising industry much of what Mad Men touches on in regards to how advertising works won’t come as a surprise, but perhaps what the show does do is show the beginnings of an industry which is so heavily dependent on interpersonal relationships.
But everything mentioned so far is just the pool which the Don Draper character wades through. One of the most interesting aspects to Don Draper is how he doesn’t change. He’s a prisoner of his own past, seemingly locked inside the fake persona he took on. Fashions come and go, but Don Draper is still wearing the same suits and hats whether it be 1955 or 1965. The “show” that Don puts on can’t change for fear of being seen as the falsehood it is. Roger Sterling is similar in this respect and both these characters went to war, so I wonder if this is the shows writers making the point that war changed those who went through it so much that it was such a life altering event that it held them there, in the time, not allowing them to change during the decades afterwards.
Mad Men is an essay on our collective psyche and a portrayal of men held captive by their own memories. It will be over soon but I’m sure will be talked about for many years to come.