Thursday, February 24, 2011

Neighbors in Suburbia

[Image via NYPress]
It should come as no surprise to the people who know me well that I am hardly ever fully up to date about what is trendy right now. Just the other day I mentioned to my coworker that I heard a song on the radio with an excerpt of "Hard Knock Life" in between the rapper's lyrics. "Is that a new song?" I asked, having never heard it before. Umm, no. It's a Jay-Z song from 1998. 1998?!  Cue embarrassed eye roll. Like I was listening to top 40 tunes in '98... I was probably still dancing around to the actual Annie soundtrack, the na├»ve musical-loving gal that was...err...still am.

So here we are, nearly four years after its initial debut, and I'm finally jumping on the Mad Men bandwagon. Like most viewers, I probably gasped in the same spots ('The blatant sexual harassment in the workplace!' 'But Mr. Draper! You have a family!'). And even though the comparisons to today are shocking, I can't help but think that I've seen this scenario before.

During the past two years I've read some of Richard Yates' work: the ever popular Revolutionary Road, the lesser known Young Hearts Crying, and a diverse collection of Mr. Yates' short stories. A handful of these tales feature something like this: a deteriorating marriage, a beautiful housewifey character taking care of her two equally lovely kids, and the man of the house making his dreaded commute from the suburbs to a job in the city, so confident in his ego that he flirts (and sleeps) with anything in a skirt. There's boozing, smoking, and general dissatisfaction with the parameters of the times. Like I said, I'm only three episodes into the series, but I can't help but think that Yates' Wheelers and Mad Men's Drapers are living parallel lives -- more smiling-faced tragedy, betrayal, and Old Fashioneds are just around the corner.

1 comment:

  1. It's only been recently that I've gotten better with knowing what trendy or fashionable now. But I'm just like you... listening to Johnny Nash's "I can see clearly now the rain is gone" on the smooth oldies station in high school when everyone else was listening to rocking 95.5 and all the new fan-dangled stuff ;)