Friday, August 7, 2009

Mad Men Season 2 DVDs & Killer Vanity Fair Photos

I've spent the past couple of days marinating in Mad Men's second season DVDs in preparation for a column I've been working on. And, I must say, as a Mad Men fan, I found the DVD extras to be insightful. There are a bunch of audio commentaries on the disks which not only illuminated characters and plotlines, but also confirmed some of Mad Men fans' suspicions about why show-runner Matt Weiner had certain things happen.

For example, Jon "I'm Don Draper" Hamm said that the one of the main themes of the AMC show's sophomore season was about the evolution of the female characters, about "these women finding their place and finding their power." While commenting on the season two premiere, Weiner said that Betty Draper (January Jones) was trying to figure out the value -- in hard currency -- of her housewifedom and determine whether being a married, at-home mother was a form of prostitution. "I love this idea," Weiner said, "'What are we worth?'"

On the audio commentary for the episode "The New Girl," (otherwise known as the one where Don gets into a drunk driving accident while the Odious Bobbie Barrett's in the car, and Peggy bails them out of jail), it was fascinating to hear actress Melinda McGraw, who played Barrett, express her shock at how much "people hated Bobbie Barrett." She speculated on why there was a double-standard for Bobbie's cheating versus Don's, calling her character a female version of Don the debonair.

The disks also included a two-part documentary about the evolution of the feminist movement, using the women of Mad Men as a jumping off point, putting the show into historical context. (If Weiner sets season three in 1963 -- he hasn't yet divulged the year -- this Newsweek piece provides some details on what historical events transpired in 1963 that could be woven into the Mad Men narrative.)

Meanwhile, the media (myself included) are working themselves up into a frenzy leading up to the August 16 season three premiere:

-- Vanity Fair just released a long article about Mad Men and included some killer Annie Leibovitz photos of Hamm and Jones that should sell a lot of copies of that magazine. Smokin'.

-- New York Magazine had a three-article package about the show, including a shout-out for the snake-like Pete Campbell and a guide to the show's first two seasons.

-- And after seeing the slate of Mad Men events slated to occur in New York City in the next week, I'm kinda wishing I lived in NYC to attend them.

Image credit: Annie Leibovitz via Vanity Fair.

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