So many people are secretly happy in the fall that if you're feeling sad this time of year, you feel compelled to keep it to yourself.
I just learned from Maureen Dowd's column that Mad Men is one of President Obama's favorite TV shows. Now, I've got a complicated relationship with that show. My late dad was an ad man during that same era, he hated it on grounds that, "You don't make great ads by drinking and screwing all day!"
But it's so much fun watching them try!
I hate the show—of which I've seen the first two seasons—on different grounds: It's mostly meaningless and far more cynical than the atmosphere my dad (and copywriter mom, who Peggy Olson looks creepily like) described. More nihilistic than all but the very worst people I've ever worked with. And the sexism might have been bad in the 1960s, but still, I know when a point is being shoved down my throat. An amusing cartoon, but not very much like real life—then, now, or ever.
Ultimately, I agree with what I think was my dad's core point: That the people who are writing these episodes are not wise adults but clever children.
Me, I prefer sad men to Mad Men, and in the last few weeks I've watched:
• Tell Them Anything You Want, an interview documentary on Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are. I haven't seen the Wild Things movie yet, but I'll eat my hat if it's better than this conversation with the funny children's book writer with the sad childhood.
• Finishing Heaven, a documentary about a movie a guy filmed in 1970 but has been trying and failing to finish ever since. Sad—and thus, funny!
• And, for me, the saddest of them all, ESPN's documentary Muhammad and Larry, about the stupid, stupid lead-up to Muhammed Ali's disastrous last major fight.
I guess I'm glad President Obama's not watching all these sad films. A leader must light candles rather than curse darkness. But as for me, I sure find more to think about—and much more, as a matter of fact, to laugh about—in the sad stuff than in the mad stuff.
How about you?