Mad Men has become one of those shows I just can’t get enough of. I am fascinated by the sometimes harsh reality it illustrates of an often-romanticized period in American history, the 1960s. I admit that I have always imagined the 50s and 60s as a “simpler time” with less stress and more values. While Mad Men is just a show, it does bring to light the fact that every generation has struggles, and life is certainly not perfect no matter how much our nostalgia wants us to think so.
I was struck most recently by this week’s episode of Mad Men, Mystery Date, for a multitude of reasons–one of which dealt with the realities of having a man come home from war (Vietnam) and the adjustment (or in this case, lack thereof) period.
As an Army wife, I find that people also often romanticize what it is like to be married to a service member. Many times, people see television shows and newscasts that feature homecomings from war and heart-wrenching farewells, offering viewers only one side of a very complex life.
This episode showed a less-often addressed side of the military lifestyle–the struggles. Reintegration, readjustment, and even resentment are all dealt with. The show does not hide from the tough topics, and I think that’s what makes it so intriguing. As this particular episode drew to a close, Joan and Greg (pictured here), faced their reality, which was not a happy one. Greg has volunteered for another tour overseas and Joan wants her husband home to care for their new baby together and start their family.
The struggles of war and balancing family and duty are not new, and I was reminded of that while watching this episode. I am grateful for the support systems that are now in place for us. Unlike Joan, we have a multitude of support systems, organizations and services to help us cope with being at home while our service member is gone; and unlike Greg, we have more awareness and guidance for those returning from war.
The obstacles may still be present in an age of recurring deployments, but I am so grateful for the progress we have made!