Mad Men, Women, and Children: Essays on Gender and Generation
Heather Marcovitch, Nancy Batty
As rich and complex as The Sopranos or The Wire, Mad Men demands a critical look at its narrative and characters as representative of both the period it depicts and of our memories and assumptions of the period. Mad Men, Women, and Children: Essays on Gender and Generation, edited by Heather Marcovitch and Nancy Batty, focuses on women and children, two groups that are not only identified together in this period (women characters in this show are often treated as coddled children and the children look to their parents as models of adult behaviors) but are also two groups who are beginning to gain political and social rights in this period. The connections between the women of Mad Men, early second-wave feminism, and contemporary third-wave feminism and post-feminism invite discussion in nearly every episode. These characters are further contextualized in light of historical figures and events, from the death of Marilyn Monroe and the assassination of Kennedy to the March on Washington and the bohemian counterculture. Moreover, the points of view of the children, who are now adult viewers of Mad Men, bridge the 1960s to the social and cultural concerns of today. Mad Men, Women, and Children presents an examination of these characters and issues in light of 1960s feminist writers such as Betty Friedan and popular writers such as Helen Gurley Brown, of historical events like the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Liberation Movement, and as lenses through which to view the sensibilities of the early 1960s.