On the George Washington Bloom Project: Special Mad Men Edition

21Oct08

In which The Gay Recluse loves orchids, yet feels ambivalent about teevee.

This week we’ve been catching up on Season Two of Mad Men.

We’re not here to criticize the show, which is srsly one of the best on teevee these days.

It’s basically everything you want in a drama: three-dimensional characters, interesting stories, good dialogue, beautifully composed sets and costumes. It’s a genuinely literary endeavor, and we’re almost never bored or particularly frustrated when we watch.

Yet as we observe Don Draper, the handsome and brooding and oddly cerebral (anti?)hero who — like Tony Soprano — drinks and fucks and punches his way through a tortured mid-life crisis, we cannot help but feel somewhat fatigued by how fucking straight he is. After 35+ years of intense teevee absorption, we want something that looks a little bit more like the world we live in, and not some Hollywood dreamland (no matter how intelligently it’s constructed, as with Mad Men.)

We’re not suggesting that Don Draper needs some M2M action to somehow legitimize him (or the show).

We want a completely different show! In short, we’re looking forward to the day when themes of alienation and loneliness can be presented through an attractive (to the extent that can be objective) and aggressive — and sexually magnetic — character who is not a straight guy.

We crave this in the same way we crave someone who’s not a straight white guy to be elected to the presidency; ultimately it’s not a question of logic — there’s no particular policy that Barack Obama holds that couldn’t also be held by a white-guy candidate — but we nevertheless want someone who at least superficially (though ideally more than that) reflects the world around us, and by “world” we mean “city.”

We hope Obama wins! Yet even if he does, as for our prospective teevee show, we understand that we’ll probably be watching this from beyond the grave.



8 Responses to “On the George Washington Bloom Project: Special Mad Men Edition”

  1. Amen to this post. And to its beyond-the-grave close. We’ll have to look to one of the gay cable channels for something like your request, and from the state of things there, the quality we get will NOT be Mad Men-level. Until gay becomes the majority circumstance, television will not honor the minority viewpoint — except in some token manner. Or by taking a quality British series such as Queer as Folk and turning it into typical American sleaze/schlock.

  2. Thanks, Jim — we’re obvs on the same page here.

  3. 3 Francis

    try “Torchwood” with John Barrowman on BBC. sexy and engrossing in an inclusive post gay science fiction world. great writing, ok acting and high production.

  4. Hey Francis — thanks, I’m definitely on board with Torchwood, but it’s definitely not exploring deep issues of identity and alienation in the way we’ve come to expect from series such as The Sopranos and Mad Men. Six Feet Under is probably the closest thing I’ve seen to achieving what I envision, but in a way it might have been more interesting if Nate had been the gay character.

  5. 5 jesus

    i’m a little surprised by how drawn in i’ve been by these shows because i’m not a sci-fi person, but try battlestar galactica and/or heroes. seriously good television, and supremely intelligent. nothing explicitly queer in either (at least not through season 1 of heroes, which is the only season i’ve seen), but they are definitely exploring issues of identity and alienation outside of the straight-white-male paradigm.

  6. Thanks, Jesus — will def check those out. Though in addition to wanting something explicitly gay, I guess part of me is also looking for something that’s also Critically Acclaimed in the way Mad Men and The Sopranos are/were (and with good reason).

  7. 7 jesus

    battlestar galactica and heroes are definitely critically acclaimed. i know heroes is just finding its stride again, after what i’ve heard was a mediocre second season–cut short, thank god in this case, by the writers’ strike. season three is supposed to be great again. but battlestar has maintained quality throughout, has won a peabody and by many (including myself) has been called among the smartest television ever written. it’s truly a phenomenal show. there is one lesbian in battlestar, though it is only really explored in the movie that was released between seasons. unfortunately–and i’m not convinced it’s homophobia per se–she’s the wicked witch of the west.

    i share with you the desire for something explicitly queer. there are budding lesbians (one latina!) on grey’s anatomy. unfortunately, that is not among the smartest tv ever written. ugly better is not either, but it is amusing. it’s full of queer stereotypes, but can be forgiven because every character on the show is a stereotype. the potentially great thing about it is that it looks like they’re about to take on the coming out of a young, latino high schooler who is unabashedly and unapologetically himself (and, yes, a princess). he is, actually, truly, a beautiful character.

    if you’re willing to go back a bit, buffy was pretty excellent, and explicitly feminist and queer, though very white. geez, when did i become such an expert on sci-fi???

  8. 8 jesus

    ps: battlestar, heroes and ugly betty are all beautifully shot as well. and two of heroes’ up-and-coming stars (the almost unbearably beautiful and talented hayden panettiere and milo ventimiglia) are vegetarians in real-life, which in my book gives them and the show extra points. :-)


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