Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The year was 1969...

When it comes to Mad Men, absolutely nothing is predictable. The only thing we can anticipate, is the year the season will occupy--maybe. James Poniewozik of Time admitted that after a behind-the-scenes tour of the season 7 set, he swore not to reveal the season's date. I have been assuming that season 7 occupies the atmosphere of 1969, and I'm going to keep doing so until I'm proven wrong. Taking a look at major headlines of 1969 can give us some clues but, as I'm sure you know, Mad Men has a long and complicated relationship with major historical events.
 Matthew Weiner often chooses to gloss over it, or reduce a major war to the background hum on a television set. Poniewozik wrote that Weiner takes this route because he is interested in exploring day-to-day life, a.k.a. not everyone was shaking hands with the President. He wanted us to experience history how the characters would have actually experienced it, through television sets, magazine covers, word-of-mouth.

There is an incredibly interesting interactive article from The New York Times comparing historical events from a selected period of years, to their appearance in Mad Men. For the selected few years, a lot of the historical moments are fully dealt with in the show. Even so, the article was written a few years ago, and I don't think Matthew Weiner plans to deal with events the same way. But we should always remember, The Korean War, a historical event, created Don Draper.

The year 1969 was certainly a happening one. There are plenty of world-shaking events for Mad Men writers to choose from. So for the heck of it, I present all and how I see them being dealt with, or not dealt with:
January 20th: Richard Nixon is inaugurated as the 37th President of the United States
Will the writers turn to a lot of "we know something the characters don't know" type of foreshadowing? Will some characters be skeptical of the new president?

June 28th: Stonewall Riot in New York City marks the beginning of the gay rights movement
In our wildest dreams, Sal Romano resurfaces. A major character comes out of the closet, maybe Pete? In reality, which is the unreality of being a TV show, there will be a split in opinions at the office.  It will go along with the clear contrast in style we've seen with the "oldies" and the "young-ins." Something tells me Betty won't be too happy. I am curious to see Bob Benson's opinion/reaction.

July 18th: Mary Jo Kopechne was killed in the Chappaquiddick incident where US Senator Ted Kennedy accidentally drove his car off a bridge. 
Kennedy swam free and did not report the accident within nine hours.
 July 20th: Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, Jr. walk on the moon.  
Perhaps people experience a general freakout, such a thing was quite crazy at the time.  We will most likely see the infamous photo on the cover of a newspaper, magazine or broadcasted on TV.

August 6th: Sharon Tate Murdered 
Will this be Megan's death date? Not to mention, Sharon Tate was due to give birth in two weeks when she was murdered by Charles Manson...Megan's pregnant? No way. It is interesting though.

August 15-18th: Woodstock 
I would love to see the Mad Men writers take a stab at performances by Janis Joplin, The Who, and other types of non-office noise. It's extremely unlikely, though.
Unless Matthew Weiner is really trying to mess with us, this won't be happening. He even said that most people didn't attend Woodstock, they simply watched the documentary a year later. And aside from what Weiner said, we have rarely seen the hippie "youth movement" in seasons 1-6. According to an article from a few months ago, though, "there will be more hippies than the suave Don Draper can handle in the upcoming final season." The only hippies I can remember is Frank Gleason's daughter and Don's first affair-mate in season one, Midge Daniels. Last time we saw her she was married to a failed playwright and addicted to heroin. Her and Sally meet at Woodstock and realize they both know Don? Ya, never.

September 26th: The Brady Bunch premieres on ABC
Will Sally, Bobby, and Gene Draper wish their lives were more like the show? Aw.

The Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act is introduced to Congress:
Probably the most Mad Men appropriate historical event of all, the FCC banned cigarette ads on radio and television. Could this be a major "I told you so" moment for Don? I guess it depends if he is working with those who he told.
Perhaps it will just be the cause of tension in the air, as it was not signed by Nixon until April 1, 1970, and did not take full effect until January 2nd, 1971, so that broadcasters can air cigarette commercials during college football games and New Year's Day.

Vietnam War 
As far as the Vietnam War goes, the deadliest year for American families was 1968. Slate does an amazing job at showing how Mad Men writers addressed that through semi-hidden symbols, even in the Chevy account.

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