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Mad Men, Season 4: Saarinen's Curves

Filed under: The Squib Report   Tagged: , ,

Martin Schneider writes:

Watching Mad Men the last two weeks ("Public Relations" and "Christmas Comes But Once a Year"), it's been a shock to see how thoroughly its creators have used the plot point of a new office environment as an opportunity to pivot from what I've been calling the 1950s/"Sinatra" side of the 1960s to something closer to, say, Swinging London, not to mention Woodstock. I had once assumed that the show would find this transition difficult—at this point, I think this show can do anything.

The sight of the airy, sleek, symmetrical, somewhat plastic new SCDP office, with its Eero Saarinen furniture and Op Art wall decor, puts me in the mind of a possible key influence none of the smarties I read at Slate or Vanity Fair have mentioned—yet. I refer to Jacques Tati.

At the Awl's "Footnotes of 'Mad Men,'" Natasha Vargas-Cooper, excited about the new relevance of infidelity lyrics from "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," doesn't seem to notice the fairly obvious Tati reference implied by a resonant screenshot of the show (I assume) she has posted. That is, this picture:

Myself, I can't decide whether the Mad Men staff spent last summer screening Playtime or are barely conscious of the echo. I suspect it's closer to the former option.


Martin - brilliant!

btw, for those in NYC, ‘Mon Oncle’ is coming to Film Forum in September….

Thanks, Jonathan! The sight of that still image (is it really from MM? Is their office that large? I’m skeptical.) sparked a connection in my mind. With any luck, my insight will be cliche in two weeks.

Clarification! That image is not from the show, it’s just an arbitrary Tati-esque image.

Yeah. The set has a much more cluttered look. I’m actually not that impressed with the transition. Too much Ikea/Target’s take on the mid-sixties.

But … I still think your Tati reference is right on, because they seem awkward in the space. At least, the older guys do.

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