Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My Fictitious Mad Men.

I don't know why but I felt the need to write this post a couple of days ago as I sat in my car waiting in the 20-minute line at the gas station.  Not that I was taking inspiration from my surroundings, because, let's face it - I can't actually recall the last time I saw a shockingly good looking man here in Abu Dhabi (husband excluded), but I can say with a certain degree of certitude that it was not at the local ADNOC.

Matt and I started watching the television drama Mad Men about a week ago or so.  We are about 4 years late in jumping on the bandwagon with this, much to my now-horror.  Matt's dad had mentioned the show before but only in the context of how people used to smoke and drink in the office all the time and that in and of itself never piqued my interest.  It was only when I was faced with unfathomable possibility of suffering through 8+ hours of Paul Giamatti as John Adams (great story but seriously, kill me now), that I desperately searched for another series to dive into and found Mad Men.

Much to my delight, Mad Men is far more than just men drinking and smoking in the office (though I will admit that's about 75% of the show): it's an intriguing account of Advertising and Life in 1960s New York City through the lens of the "Mad Men" themselves: the Madison Avenue Males Elite.  Even luckier for me, the main Mad Man is a man by the name of Don Draper, or Jon Hamm if you must be petulantly accurate.

And so while sitting there in my Nissan Murano, waiting to request a full tank of "special" grade gas, I deeply pondered whether I'd rather - in another life - end up with my previous crush, Stringer Bell of The Wire, or  my current one, Don Draper of Mad Men (who, oddly, kinda looks like a better-looking Steve Carell).  That's when this list was born.  These two men, or rather their characters - and let me be clear that I don't think I'd like either of them much in real life - to me are infinitely attractive for one reason or another.   And just for the record a disclaimer:  No offense or disrespect is intended with this list to the only non-fictitious Mad Man of my life and dreams. :)

* * *

My Top Six (Fictitious) Mad Men
as in, the very fictitious men of my dreams

6. Jimmy Darmody of Boardwalk Empire
Sorry, no matter how good of an actor, nothing in the world could entice me to include Steve Buscemi on this list.  I feel infinitely sorry (and kinda grossed out) for Kelly Macdonald in having to kiss him as much as she does in this show (even if it is her big break).  No, let's leave Enoch out of this conversation.
While I will admit to the somewhat tangential nature of this crush, I do find something intriguing and attractive about the troubled Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt, not of Brad Pitt-relation, fyi).  This actor is about as close to a full-on typecast as anyone.  He only plays weird, screwed up young men with ghost-like complexions. It was true in that episode of Law & Order SVU, it was true in Murder By Numbers, and it's true in Boardwalk Empire.  And yet, there's something endearing about Jimmy: he went to Princeton, then fought in the Great War, then omes back to Jersey to try to be a father and husband only to find he has lost himself along the way.  Oh and he's kind of cute.

5. Michael Scott of The Office (American version)
Is this so wrong?  Is it wrong to think Steve Carell is kinda good looking?  I know my Tia Ita agrees with me, but is she really the only woman out there who does?  Michael Scott is an idiot, but he is so genuine and desperate that you almost can't stand but want to give him a hug.  And I know he has unconventional looks, but I do think he's good looking actually (go ahead and judge).  I felt a serious dislike of Jan in those episodes when they were living together and she'd lost her job and was essentially running him into the ground by funding Candles by Jan.  And I rejoiced with him when he almost got the job at corporate, or almost got fired but didn't with the sell-out, and I continue to love him, through the female-suit wearing incident, despite him crying at the office olympics award ceremony, and because of the way he said "I do delcare!" in the Murder Mystery episode.  Ah Michael Scott, if you didn't inspire real loyalty, even Dwight would have left by now. :)

4. Jeffrey Lebowski, The Dude of The Big Lebowski
Wild card! I know.  There's not much attractive about Jeff Bridges, much less his incarnation of the bowling, pacifist, doobie-smoking Dude.  But there is something very appealing about him - and I don't mean in the way Maude Lebowski found him appealing.  He's funny (though he doesn't mean to be), he's constantly alternating between being completely frazzled and completely high, he's smart enough to know Walter is full of shite, and yet, he accepts the offer to be courier in the very-obviously fixed case of the missing trophy-wife.  Oh and he compulsively drinks White Russians, which is both tasteful and ridiculous at the same time.  I can't even begin to count how many times this guy made me laugh aloud, and that has to count for something in a man.

Always privy to the new shit, the Dude abides.

3. Tony Soprano of The Sopranos
Was it just me or did you also alternate between loving and hating this guy?  I will be unequivocally clear about kind of really hating James Gandolfini (isn't his last name nauseating?! Mini-Gandolf[s] is what is means!), and also feeling that he has essentially turned into Tony Soprano, never to return to normal life again since the series ended.  But, there reached a certain point in the twisted tale of sex, murder, and family-life where I actually found myself feeling attracted to this monster!  It was like I had temporarily turned into Lorraine Bracco (slow accent and all), oscillating between disgust, pity and affection for a probably legitimately screwed up, yet kind of sweet, Italian-American Mafioso.  I guess the producers did their job.  Ah well, whattayagonnado?


2. Russel "Stringer" Bell of The Wire
Ah Stringer.  I almost didn't want to admit this tv-crush to anyone (even though Matt totally called it after the first season) and not only because he's a ruthless drug-dealer-thug who double crosses his best friend.  He also wears pleated pants and 80s sweaters, which kinda weirds me out.  And let's face it, we were all a little grossed out that time he kissed Dawnette, and I was definitely put-off when he started schmoozing with nasty old Senator Davis, but I loved Stringer.  And when he died, I almost didn't want to keep watching (but I did) and even so, I mourned Stringer deeply when Omar finally "popped a cap" in him in that ridiculously intense chase-scene in the empty building.  And frankly, I'm not ashamed to say that mourning was extended further when McNulty found the Samurai swords and a copy of  The Wealth of Nations at Stringer's rather tasteful Baltimore apartment.

1. Don Draper of Mad Men
This is the real deal ladies.  I had no idea who Jon Hamm was until I saw this show, and I am still not really sure I want to know who Jon Hamm is.  I'd be satisfied knowing he was just Don Draper for the duration of Mad Men and then once it is over - poof!- he will just disintegrate into tiny little molecules and be gone with the wind.  This harshness is necessary because you and I know that Jon Hamm cannot live up to Don Draper.  He's not as handsome, not as persuasive, not as madly manish.  Don Draper would never be scruffy or wear boho chic clothes while sipping a Latte in L.A.!  No, he's got the slicked back hair-tailored-suit-neat-whiskey thing going on, even though he is seriously screwed up. 

Yes, yes, he grew up a redneck on a farm, was beaten severely by his father, then stole someone's identity in World War II, but these are all just details!  What's really important is that, despite serially cheating on his pretty little cream-puff of a wife with women of questionable taste (seriously), he manages somehow to come off as genuinely caring, interesting, intelligent, driven, and even devoted.  How is that possible?!  I don't know, I don't care.  Bring on the next episode and don't let it end!
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