CliqueClack TV

Mad Men Unbuttoned: A book about Mad Men! (kind of)

It's a book! About TV! I tackle 'Mad Men Unbuttoned: A Romp Through 1960s America', by Natasha Vargas-Cooper, in CliqueClack TV's first-ever book review.

I love TV, and I love books, but books about TV shows has never been a category I’ve been particularly interested in. Who wants to read about something you see on TV? That seems to defeat the entire purpose of zapping my brain with the warm glow coming out of my television set.

When the opportunity came up to review the new book, Mad Men Unbuttoned: A Romp Through 1960s America, though, I took it. I had no idea what it was, but maybe held out hope that it was a collection of just weird Joan/Peggy/Betty/Don/Roger slash fiction. It wasn’t that, but luckily it also wasn’t what I feared: a lame promotional tool for a TV series. Instead, it turns out that it’s a book based on a blog of which I was already a fan: The Footnotes of Mad Men.

Even though the website is, “The Footnotes of Mad Men” is a much better descriptor of what the site and the book actually are. It’s not a fan site dedicated to the minutia of the show itself — instead, it’s devoted to the minutia of the world in which the characters reside.

What was Betty’s inspiration behind her Italian makeover? Why was Peggy’s OB-GYN such a douche when he prescribed her birth control? Just what the hell is up with Bert Cooper’s office? These are all of the questions answered in Unbuttoned.

The events of the show aren’t discussed in detail, but rather used as a jumping-off point to talk about what what going on in the country to spur that particular plot line or line of dialogue. If you’ve ever watched an episode of Mad Men and wondered what the hell they’re talking about, this book is a great resource.

Mad Men Unbuttoned jumps around from episode to episode and from season to season, so it’s not exactly a compendium to the show, but it does give you a great overall view of the issues and trends going on during the time period. One section deals solely with films referenced throughout the series, and there are also sections devoted to the art, books, and of course, fashion.

As it’s a book based on a blog, the different essays are short, concise, and easy to read. This is a great book to pick up and read casually, but not great if you want to hunker down and read. Since it does jump around so much, there’s no real narrative thread, so it’s definitely more of a coffee table book.

I certainly enjoyed this collection of essays, but I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I weren’t reading it for this review. It’s definitely more of a book that you’d want to pick up and put down as the mood strikes — it’s not ideal for reading for long stretches of time.

With that said, I do highly recommend Mad Men Unbuttoned. The author, Natasha Vargas-Cooper, does a great job of mixing in humor with her cultural analysis, and fills the book with gorgeous photographs and illustrations. The picture of the fur bikinis alone is worth the cost of admission — and it’s not even a weird euphemism for anything.

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Categories: | Clack | General | Mad Men | TV Shows |

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