Mad Men, Women, and the Lure of Feminism
Mimi White analyses two tendencies in critical assessments of Mad Men, women and feminism. She argues that both are tied to the program’s narrative modes, and constrained by aesthetic convention. Retro-anachronistic post-feminism projects contemporary ideas onto the past, seeing feminism in characters who promote themselves in the program’s version of the 1960s. Second-wave feminist perspectives praise the program’s truth to history, as women suffer the strictures of patriarchy in a melodramatic mode. The women characters move between these positions and rarely occupy the same feminist position at one time; rather, they are placed at odds with one another—a familiar patriarchal narrative gambit. Prospects for feminist pleasure only hinted at in Mad Men are apparent in Pan Am, a program with far less cultural cachet.
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