If you haven't visited Tom and Lorenzo's website "Fabulous and Opionated" you're missing out. These lads turn out a blog that concerns itself mainly with fashion and style as it applies to television and film, but have of late, turned their considerable talents to writing reviews for the Huffington Post and Metrosource.
On that note, they have taken a considerable amount of time to deconstruct the latest happenings in the world of TV's popular Madmen. A certain Bob Benson in particular has brought back to the show the presence of a gay man in advertising in the 60s. What's so great about Tom and Lorenzo is that they delve deep into the historical and sociological aspects of the character. Here's a sample:
But Bob’s life doesn’t necessarily have to be one completely without companionship or sex. New York City was (and in many ways still is) one of the best places to be in the country for young gay men with no family ties. There was a burgeoning gay social scene at this time. There almost always had been one in New York City, but in the years following the war, the numbers of detached men and women who migrated to the city and joined what would later come to be called the “gay community” expanded tremendously. This is largely why the Stonewall Riots of 1969 happened when they did; because the gay community finally had the numbers and the communally-fed anger needed to do something about the institutionalized harassment they were receiving from the police.
By the way, the Stonewall Riots will be happening practically in Joan’s backyard. Having lived in the Village the entire decade of the sixties, Joan has probably come across more gay people in her day-to-day life than anyone else in the Mad Men story. It makes perfect sense that she would befriend a good-looking young gay man who works with her.
Anyway, we made a point in our initial review of this episode that Bob comes across “culturally gay,” which is to say, he’s closeted in work and in many areas of his life, but he likely has some form of gay social life, given that he knows Manolo well enough to recommend him for jobs. If you’d like some sense of what this gay social scene was like and how someone like Bob Benson would have fit into it, we highly recommend seeing the film version of “The Boys in the Band.” The play opened off-Broadway in April of 1968 and offers a near-perfect snapshot of bitchy, self-loathing, pre-Stonewall middle-class Manhattan gay male socializing. The entire film is available on YouTube. It’s quite the artifact. We would also highly recommend Edmund White’s “A Boy’s Own Story” and “The Beautiful Room is Empty” for an extremely detailed and well-drawn depiction of white gay male life in NYC prior to and around this period.
Read the entire piece on their blog, it is a fascinating analysis and happily, they are both great writers. That we all got most the "facts" about Mr Benson wrong is of no importance—we are but tea readers in the mind of Matthew Weiner, but is good to see the issue being rasied once again. There is enormous speculation about the show in the public— will Don Draper's wife Megan, die a horrible Sharon Tate-ish death, will Don finally pay for his wealth of sins? We have taken to look at the series as a reflection of not only the fashion but the politics and culture of the era in which it exists, the 60s. I would only add to the speculation my own version of endings of the show: its in the credits, literally, in the credits of the show, we are shown a man falling from a New York high-rise. I suspect that is how this ends.