First of all, I would like you all to know that I keep putting my name in the heading titles not because I am an unrepentant narcissist (or at least, not just because) but as per Stacey's instructions. Stacey, if I'm allowed to stop doing this, or somehow misunderstood--which is possible, even probable--please let me know.
Bon. On y va.
I'm egregiously late in posting today. I wish I had a good excuse, but there's only one I can muster: it's that today is a Monday. Some of you may know what that means. It means that apart from my other commitments--eating, washing, therapy, Googling my own name, crushing the dreams of young actors trying out for my new play--I spent the entire day online, reading recaps of Mad Men. And reading the accompanying comment threads about Mad Men--sometimes several hundred comments long. And then watching the behind the scenes video about Mad Men. And communicating with other people about Mad Men And the rewatching last night's episode of Mad Men. And then reading yet more recaps of Mad Men.
In short, I spent my Monday, as I do many Mondays (ah, the aimless life of the freelancer!) engaging with Mad Men the way I once did with works of literature.
On its face, this isn't particularly surprising. I have written at length about my overidentification with Betty Draper, in styles both humorous and grave. I even wrote this, which I felt pretty damn smug about. So I'm definitely a little more invested than the average bear, or even the average New York City Media Professional who consumes the show the way she consumes vodka sodas at a Lower East Side one-hour open bar. And Mad Men, it has often been noted by cultural critics far more astute than I, seems to think it is a novel. The parallels and narrative threads, the long pauses before anybody speaks pregnant with unspoken prosaic description; the way everything is a symbol and nobody quite says what they mean.
It cries out for analysis. It fairly begs for it. If there's not a college course teaching it alongside Cheever and O'Hara, there will be soon.
Yet, I finish my day feeling empty. I'm not going to say cheaply snide things about how it's just a TV show, that these characters aren't real and it's stupid to care about them, because if that was true, then we would all be out of a job. Sometimes, the only things worth caring too much about aren't real. But it did leave me hungry for simpler days, before television got so ambitious and self-important and wonderful. When you didn't have to engage with things. When you could just watch Perfect Strangers after you finished your homework and not talk about it all fucking week. When the world looked perfect, with nothing to rearrange.