Yesterday we published a post lightheartedly tweaking Mad Men for portraying a disproportionate number of divorces for the era: The show’s three recent marital splits among the show’s central cast is at odds with 1967’s actual northeast-U.S. average of 11 percent, according to a National Health Survey from the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare from that year. (The Jerry Seinfeld Institute supported this claim.) And oh, the commenter rage that ensued! Why would we ever tear into this great show with such a tiny quibble? Plus, one commenter typingly bellowed, that average doesn’t take into account that divorce was “more prevalent in the sixties with the rich and social elite.” To which we respond with a clarification and an In your face!
Let’s start with the diplomatic clarification. The post was not actually a serious chastising of or exposé on the show, but more a friendly “gotcha!” teasing of Matthew Weiner, whose allegiance to era verisimilitude is such that he yanked the song “The Look of Love” off the season premiere’s closing credits when critics who received an advance copy pointed out the tune actually came out six months after when the episode was set. We get how TV works: This is a drama, and liberties need to be taken to make interesting television — at least that’s what we repeat to ourselves to calm down when we’re about to kick in our televisions during The Killing.
That all said, we would like to respond to claims that divorce would be more common among execs in head offices than the national average: The original post’s author Sarah Wexler points out that the same 1967 report concluded that “Studies indicate that the likelihood of divorce declines as one moves up the occupational scale.” Oh, and as to another commenter who pointed out that “This is dumb. Maybe rich white people got divorced at a higher rate than the working class, or non-whites?” — we again turn to the original ‘67 report, which says, “In the Northern states, the divorce rate for Negroes were much higher than for white persons.”
So, in conclusion: (1) We don’t really like the show any less for not conforming to national averages. And (2) If we were the kind of people who did, however … we WOULD WIN THIS ROUND.
And now we begin searching the U.S. research archives for studies on the incidence of suicide in expatriate Brits prone to slapping their crotches with steak. That felt like a statistical anomaly.
Now resume shouting at us.