Use of Grid Lines in Mad Men

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While watching the first episode, I was struck by the use of grid lines throughout the show. Grid lines on the ceiling, the grid lines of the building, the grids in which the secretaries sit, grid lines created by columns in the office…all of these contrast with the chaos of what surrounds them. I think that some part of this has to do with the style of the time period about which it is shot, but it seems to be too prominently featured in the shooting for time period recognition to be the only purpose. Instead, the perfect and straight grid lines represent what the characters constantly try to achieve: the appearance of perfection, of control and of grace. Despite appearances, however, the characters are overwhelmed with work, sexually harassed, having trouble coming up with the selling idea, and cheating on their wives – the exact opposite of the lives they are trying to seem like they live. But hey, as long as appearances are kept up and there are clean shirts in your drawer, what could go wrong?

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