“Mad Men” is back for its final season, which means another chance to laugh at those poor fools stuck in the 1960s.
Women smoking while pregnant, kids playing with plastic bags on their heads. This season finds characters saying boneheaded things about race. History is so easy when viewed from a distance.
But, I find myself wondering, "What behaviors of ours will look absurd to future generations?" What would be the punchlines for a 'Mad Men' set in 2014? Would Roger Sterling be spray tanning? Would Joan go gluten-free?
Surely no topic is more ripe for satire than our relationship with technology. Parents are hogtied to their smart phones, snapping endless pictures and videos and watching their children’s lives unfold through a tiny rectangle screen. Kids text each other while sitting at the same table. Everyone takes selfies. And in Texas, it’s still perfectly legal to text and drive. I don’t need the distance of history to tell you that's incredibly boneheaded.
Each generation corrects old mistakes, but we have a way of introducing new errors. Parents are less neglectful these days. But are they maybe a little over-involved? No, everyone doesn’t smoke anymore. But how many prescription pills are they taking?
Part of "Mad Men’s" brilliance is showing us how people are shaped by their time, even as their struggles remain timeless. We all screw up. We all fall on the wrong side of history occasionally. What did Shakespeare say? Lord, what fools these mortals be. So, the next time you find yourself snickering at the characters on “Mad Men,” remember the current popularity of Justin Bieber and drum up a little sympathy for us all.