Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Mad Return, or, Professional Parallels with Joan Holloway

(image taken from The Feminist Fatale)

The fifth season of Mad Men commences this Sunday evening, after an eighteen month respite, which for some has surely been more harsh and cruel and trying than those bitter months that Proserpina joins Pluto and Ceres wreaks havoc on the earth. This is in no way groundbreaking or even mildly interesting news, except perhaps to those who live on the cool, gentle edge of Walden Pond, without connectivity to the occasionally intellectually vibrant, oft numbingly inane realm of social media and television culture. While most are in a frenzy to indulge in the juicy and smart narrative of divorce, new relationships, new trysts, and struggling entrepreneurial endeavors in the jungle of advertising, or ready to riot for the glimpses of impeccable vintage fashion, both of which I include myself, I am, however, more acutely concerned with the portrayal of the evolution of gender politics in the professional arena. I am, after all, both a working girl and a writer. So, a fictional portrait of the female struggle to garner respect, opportunities, and success outside of the cult of domesticity, while maintaining a sense of her own physicality and sexuality, while not always factual on television, is at least entertaining. Most compelling, usually, is the lens this fictitious past presents us here, in the present, who continue this struggle daily. Again, even for the most superficial of viewers, surely the premier episode will at least offer some sartorial strategies for looking simultaneously sultry and stern in the office; the tight fitting, well tailored, and high-neck wool dresses frequently flaunted by Joan usually accomplish this feat amazingly well.

(image taken from Wall Street Journal)

In addition to sharing a similar hourglass body type, though myself, admittedly, not garnering nearly the amount of attention as that of the character nor the actress, I have been feeling synchronized with the former single Joan Holloway, now Mrs. Harris. A similar sort of assumption of grander responsibilities, without the appropriate, or deserved, recognition. In the spirit of attempting greater optimism, I am facing this challenge with the perspective that I am respected, my work is respected and valued, and thus I am entrusted with these duties. I often feel tangled in the center of a web, not of stares of sweating heated men, but of client demands and deadlines; I will keep trying to approach each with grace and, hopefully, a bit of style.


  1. I'm super excited for Mad Men to return. And yes, while I love the clothes and Don Draper is probably the sexiest fictional character of all time (& that's while being an ass), I also watch it for how the women struggle. It makes me laugh that so many people are nostalgic for that time period when it really had some issues; women's rights, civil rights, lack of enviromental awareness, all of it. And I think this show does a good job portraying a lot of that. Especially with Betty. Sure, she's batshit, but I'd be batshit too married to Don in that day and age.

  2. i love this business suit old school look!
    its so powerful and sophisticated!

    xo kaitlin

  3. I'm in love with mad men serial! it is just amazing, love the actresses and the clothes they wear

  4. I love this old school corporate thing they have going on in mad men, it's a great change!