AMC, the cable network, originally began as a movie channel in the mid-1980s. Now, however, we most commonly laud AMC not for its airing of The Godfather trilogy in chronological order during at least one holiday weekend per year, but rather its groundbreaking stable of television series that seem to garner the most Emmy nominations. Although it’s no ESPN or MTV, AMC has successfully re-branded itself to the point that many of us cannot recall what each letter in the acronym represents. AMC has seemed to grasp the Sopranos rubric more than any other network. That is, at the core of the TV shows that get the network so much viewership and acclaim is the white, male anti-hero in crisis.
Now, much has been said about these AMC shows and race. Namely, critical darling Mad Men, which centers on a New York advertising firm in the 1960s, might be derisively called White Men Behaving Badly. The show is full of misogyny, alcohol, cigarette smoke, and racism. It is not, however, full of people of color. As such, many critics have blasted the show for its lack of attention to the black civil rights movement, which is occurring as the firm tries to land a car deal, among other things. Now, I have been a staunch defender of the show’s lack of color. After all, it’s advertising, a world that, even today, remains white. There are simply places where I don’t expect black people–and an advertising firm in the 1960s is one of those places. That said, although I am attracted to the series because my first desire is that I am told a good story–and Mad Men generally does just that–I understand that others might be attracted to the show for different reasons. And one of those reasons might precisely be in the way the show renders the era: as decidedly white (privileged male), misogynist, and racist. For some, those were the days. Word to Archie Bunker.