Her blind love of the swinging decade led us to get into a bit of a tiff this morning as she declared her devotion to Pan Am. Ok. Different strokes, I guess. But then she started comparing it to the far superior American Dreams and I almost lost it. They are so NOT THE SAME THING. It's like comparing Private Benjamin to Saving Private Ryan because the both involve privates. Of the military variety. Apples, meet oranges.
The truth is, there have been quite a few sixties shows in the past few years, ranging in quality. Some should never be seen again and some should be rewatched often (If only all the damn DVDs will come out!). Here are my popinions on the best and worst of these pastiche shows:
The Playboy Club
That being said, if you want some sixties on your tube (like my mother) then this is the only actual option airing at the moment. So it does have that going for it. Still, I wouldn't hold my breath for a long shelf life so it may not have the chance to get better even if it could. Tune in to watch Wednesday Addams be spunky but for sixties viewing, there are far better options.
State Of Grace
The most popular of the sixties shows, Mad Men is the thing that made it cool to put period pieces back on television. It has all all star cast lead by the amazing John Hamm and shows the sixties and it sleekest and sexiest. Mad Men has been great about showcasing the most difficult part of the decade; that it in fact was all about appearances. The characters are often forced to keep their feelings hidden beneath, which provides a good challenge to both the writers and the actors to help us learn about these people without them telling us a great deal about them. In addition, while it may be a retro show, it uses the very modern trend of the anti-hero, giving it quite a different feel from other sixties based shows. Sometimes, it is hard to like these characters. I'm not even sure that I do most of the time. But we are interested in them, and that keeps us coming back for more.
It should be said that Man Men started out incredibly heavy handed and had a pretty flawed season four. The show has been far from perfect. It also may not help provide any warm and funny feelings of nostalgia, since it often portrays the icky parts of the era. And then there is that awful ongoing debate between Mary and I about January Jones' acting abilities (I tend to be in the camp that she can, although recent reports about her may make me rethink my stance). But when it is good, it is really good. And next season? I am so there.
If you're looking to dive back into the sixties, don't listen to my mother. Ditch the network fluff in favor of the Season one American Dreams DVDs (and pray that the following seasons will some day be released). Or even catch up on a little Mad Men. All sixties shows are not created equal and the good ones are of a high enough quality to represent the entire decade. At least until that zombie staffer show gets made.