Fag Men: Mad Men, Homosexuality and Televisual Style

Lee Wallace

Abstract

Among the many retro-fittings achieved by Mad Men—Matthew Weinerʼs still unfurling television series set in the advertising world of the early 1960s—is the representation of the homosexual closet as a thing of the past. This essay approaches Mad Men’s account of the homophobic past in order to think about sexuality and televisual style. A landmark programme coterminous with American television transferring from analogue to digital signal, Mad Men allegorizes another moment in television history when the medium was defined not by convergence and time-shifting but by liveness, scheduling flow, mass-market demographics and synchronous viewing. Though it confines its gay content to minor characters and narrative arcs that phase in and out in relation to open-ended long-form needs, the programme’s representation of homophobia as a thing of the past provides a useful lens on the complex temporal co-ordinates of contemporary television.

Keywords

the closet; homosexuality; television; queer temporality

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