As the show went on, it lapsed into the usual preoccupation with people’s sex lives, with racial, cultural, social changes pushed to the fringes of the narrative, but the first few episodes of Mad Men delighted me – the sight of kids rolling around untethered in the back seat of a station wagon. Sally with a dry cleaning bag over her head, and Betty, instead of freaking out about suffocation, yells at her daughter about not dropping the cleaned clothes on the floor. And then there’s the family picnic. The Drapers get up from this idyll and walk twenty paces to their parked car, having shaken out the picnic blanket in a flutter of wax paper, leaving the debris of their meal, their garbage, lying on the grass.
This thoughtless littering – so sixties. Seeing that shocking carelessness, I remembered how, at the end of one of my elementary school years in the early sixties, we kids crossed the gully between school and home, and ripped all the looseleaf out of our binders in celebration of our freedom, and threw it in the air and left the grass and rocks covered in paper. Who did we think would pick it up? Where did we think it would go?