Year of Graduation
(Re)constructing the Recent Past in Mad Men, Pan Am and Masters of Sex TV series
Today America welcomes the national nostalgia boom. American popular culture has turned its attention to the recent past — to the Fifties, to be more precise. We use the notion of «the Fifties» as the social and cultural construct that operates as a key structuring myth of American self-understanding. Nostalgic representations of the Fifties are provided, in particular, by TV series that are considered in this work: Mad Men, Masters of Sex, Pan Am. The majority of research papers, that examine nostalgia films and series, are focused on their narrative strategies that source critical engagements with the myths about the postwar America. Visual dimensions of the cinema are ignored as a source of non-reflexive nostalgia. This work makes an attempt to revise this attitude towards nostalgia cinema. In analysis of TV series we examine the aesthetics strategies that take part in (de)construction of nostalgia. These are so-called 'surface realism' and 'deliberate archaism' (key visual strategies), music, opening credits, period casting (auxiliary strategies). The analysis shows that each of these strategies has a critical potential. Our initial hypothesis that contemporary nostalgia TV series visual strategies alone might provide critical insight into the recent past is confirmed.