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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Mad Girl and Gossip Men

Gossip Girl fans, I'd like to introduce you to the Mad Men fans. Mad Men fans, meet the Gossip Girl fans.

Jezebel has been running posts on Mad Men on Monday mornings, since MM airs on Sundays, and Tracie, Jezebel editor, has made the excellent point that "Mad Men is Gossip Girl for grown-ups". And, well, it's true. There's enough overlap between the two shows that there should be more audience overlap as well.

First off, there's no denying the fashion influence of both Gossip Girl and Mad Men. Whether it's walking down the runways or walking down the street, we as viewers and consumers are drawn to these looks -- and we want to recreate them ourselves. And fashion designers are taking note.

But beyond the fact that both shows are really really pretty to look at, they have a lot of thematic similarities. The basic gist of Gossip Girl is that these four -- Serena, Blair, Nate, and Chuck -- are always on display and trying to keep their private lives out of the public eye of Gossip Girl herself. They have their secrets and their pasts and, especially in the case of Blair, the desire to maintain control over their own image. With Mad Men, everyone's got to maintain appearances and their own secrets, whether it's Don's affairs as well as his past, Betty's domestic unhappiness, or Peggy's denial of her present. (I am trying so hard not to spoil everyone, you guys!) In both shows, it's all about how you present yourself in public and how that collides with the people who know -- or should know -- who you really are.

There's also a common character in both shows -- New York City, but a New York City that most of us can never or will never know. I'm never going to be a high school student on the Upper East Side (and thank goodness, because I'm so done with high school!), and I'll never be a woman in the 1960s (another HUGE thank goodness here). And so while there is a form of escapism present in both shows, it's pretty clear that where they are is not so great. None of the GG characters are happy, and things aren't so great for the women or minorities of MM (to put it extremely lightly).

An interesting thought I had is -- where would Blair go in Mad Men? How would she fit in? Obviously, the direct connection is with Joan; Blair rules her group of underclassmen with an iron fist and a tight smile, while Joan, the head secretary, runs the entire corps of secretaries at Sterling Cooper much the same. I think they would either get along really well... or destroy each other in the process. Then again, I can also see Blair as Trudy Campbell, the well-to-do wife of Pete Campbell. Considering that that's basically what her mother and Nate's parents wanted for her in Season One, there's a good fit there. (Plus you know Trudy would be able to go toe-to-toe with someone like Joan or Blair if needed.) But Blair could also go the path of Betty Draper, of the overbearing mother, who's achieved exactly what she wanted: to be beautiful, to have the husband and the children, to have the perfect life... and found it to be something other than she expected. So that's just something that's been rolling around my mind lately.

Finally, both shows need you to watch. For all of the buzz and the awards and the blogs (you know, like us) talking about these two shows, they're both struggling to get actual viewers. Mad Men averaged less than a million viewers during its first season. Gossip Girl does a little better, but is still in the 3 million viewer range. Sure, you can factor in that a lot of us are watching online or waiting until the DVDs come out, but networks are in the business of putting shows on television, not online or on DVD, and if they don't think the viewers are there, they very well could kill the show...

So: there's my argument. If you like Mad Men, Gossip Girl might surprise you. And if you like Gossip Girl, you should be checking out Mad Men.

Do you watch either? Or do you watch both? What do you think?

images from amctv.com and youknowyouloveme.org

1 comment:

Ildergreien said...

I adore them both, but living in Norway I do not see them on tv, but have to wait to torrents comes out.

I hope the americans knows a qualityshow when they watch one, and do not pay to much atention to all this "reality shows" that just sucks the wievers brain out.

Have a nice day.

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