Redrawing the Family Debate

NEW YORK — When the television series “Mad Men” debuted in 2007, virtually everyone it portrayed was steadily (if not thrillingly) married, children tended to grow up with their fathers, women kept to their place, and nobody was known to be gay.

And then, over eight plot years, the future happens.

Women rise and seek equality. Marriages are fled more easily. Children start to grow up without fathers. Grandparents step in to help single mothers. Gay people peek out of the closet, and some straights seem unfazed. Marriage and childbearing are delayed for careers. Couples cooperate in child rearing without marrying. Double-income households let children slip through the cracks.

For a fictional series set half a century ago, “Mad Men” does a remarkable job of reflecting America’s present-day struggles with changing family patterns. It takes care to show how progress and decay walk arm in arm, how good change can sour into bad.

Written by ANAND GIRIDHARADAS. To read the full article, click here.

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