Don Draper’s Ram Heads in Mad Men are Subtle but Obvious.
The story behind the little details on Don Draper’s new table in his living room.
In season 5 of Mad Men, Don Draper (Jon Hamm) starts his new life with Megan (Jessica Paré) in a new apartment in New York’s Upper East Side. According to an interview with set decorator Claudette Didul, Don’s new Manhattan home decor contrasts his love to the Mid-century sleek modern lines and Megan’s love for youthful colors. His apartment furniture is a mixture of custom made items, such as his modular sofas, and vintage findings, like the glass-topped coffee table that stands in the center of his living room.
Picture Source: LA Times Copyrights by AMC TV
This round coffee table is from the Paris based interior decoration office Maison Jansen and was created in the 1950s in Italy. The side-table is made in the ‘Hollywood Regency' style which was popular in movies in 1930s and 1940s and particularly popular among Hollywood stars.
The style is a modern mixture of the Georgian and Regency style. Much of this interior décor was been created by silent Hollywood movie actor William Haines who later became a well known interior designer. He was also famous for giving wild parties with starlets like Joan Crawford or Greta Garbo.
Picture Source & Copyrigts by Deja Vue Long Beach
Back to Don’s table: Set decorator Claudette Didul bought the coffee table from the vintage store Deja vu, in Long Beach. If you take a closer look on the metal frame that has hoofed feet and four ram heads that are carrying the glass table top, you notice all the nicely, little crafted details.
The rams head in particular is a nice symbol for Don’s stubborn nature and bullish, eager to achieve any goal even when he has to run his head against a wall, attitude.
I don’t know for sure if the Mad Men creators chose this table with all of this in mind, but I think it’s a nice little trivia and reasonable assumption.
Zooey Deschanel and Peter Pan Have to Live Their Never-Ending Childhood
The story behind Jess’ (Zooey Deschanel) black fake bow tie sweater that she wore in New Girl episode Landline (S04E05).
Picture Source via Hypable Copyrights by Fox TV
Her top is from fashion brand Alice + Olivia and has a white - so called - ‘Peter Pan‘ collar. It’s named after Peter Pan, a fairy tale character created by British child book author J. M. Barrie. Peter is a young boy who lives on the magic island Neverland, who is a leader of a gang and refuses to grow up and enjoys his never-ending childhood… and therefore, he visualizes perfectly Jess’ chaotic and childish role…
Roger Sterling Gets Thoughtful - The Advertising World and Alcohol are Insatiable Birds
The story behind Roger Sterling’s drinking bird toy in Mad Men:
The Chrysanthemum & The Sword is not only the title of a Mad Men episode (S04E05) but also a reference to an influential study from 1946 by the American anthropologist Ruth Benedict about the patterns of Japanese Culture.
Despite this, the title is not the only reference to the Asian culture in this episode, because the so-called sipping bird toy was invented by an Asian craftsman in the early 20s in China. The plastic bird that visualizes a physical phenomenon was then re-invented and patented in 1945s by US chemist Miles V. Sullivan.
Picture Source Screencap Copyrights by AMC TV
This red, blue and yellow plastic toy that works with an “invisible heat engine” can be spotted in the beginning when the young creative’s Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) and her coltish team test it with curiosity and laughter.
It plays also a symbolic role five episodes later in the opening scene of Hands and Knees (S04E10) when Roger Sterling (John Slattery) is staring thoughtfully on the insatiable bird that stands next to his empty whiskey glass. The bird sips and sips ‘nothingness‘ without stopping while Roger has to stay sober.
The wonder toy ‘sips‘ water magically without any obvious cause. This mechanical repetition is a great philosophical symbol for the repetitive processes in the advertising world, that the young laughing creative’s outperform the old tired veterans.
Pictures Source: Tumblr Copyrights by AMC TV
Furthermore, the automatic dipping bird is also a perfect analogy for Roger’s drinking habit that caused his alcohol problem, a sad fact that he probably realizes while he watches the bird’s stoic mechanical movement.
Finally, the bird toy, that was invented in Asia and patented in the US and became very popular in the American school education system is also a subtle symbol for the influence that Asia had to the American culture.
I don’t know if Mad Men set decorator Claudette Didul, prop master Ellen Freund or production designer Dan Bishop had all of this in mind when choosing this philosophical and mechanical toy, but I think it’s an interesting assumption.
Will I am - a Hip Hop Superstar And James Franco’s Attempt to Copy Him in Spring Breakers (2013)!
The media references and story behind James Franco’s white sunglasses:
James Franco plays Alien, the crazy drug and arms dealer who wants to become a Gangsta Rap star in Harmony Korine’s latest drama Spring Breakers (2013).
There has been a lot of speculation about Alien’s character and which of the many real Gangsta Rapper inspired his crazy style: According to James Franco and his costume designer Heidi Bivens, they looked for rappers like Kevin Federline, Riff Raff & Dangeruss to get Alien’s badass look.
Nevertheless, there are more subtle fashion hints that visualize Alien’s trying to be a real rich music star. He wears, for example, a pair of iconic white Carrera shades in few scenes. They can be spotted, especially when he performs his songs on the stage on the beach.
Picture Source: Screencap copyrights by A24Films
This is the fairly same 5530 shades model that Hip Hop superstar Will I am used to wear. To be precise: Will.I.Am wore the SKIMAN version with orange glasses and white temples.
Picture Source: New York Daily News Copyrights by Ethan Miller
Another parallel to his potential hero Will I Am is that he performed the song "Scream & Shout" (2012) with Britney Spears for her album ‘Femme Fatale’ while Alien performs Britney’s title “Everytime” on the piano. Alien plays it - as a cynical comment - on an innocent white piano in a romantic sunset for Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Britt (Ashley Benson) and Cotty (Rachel Korine) while we see scenes of their violent robberies in slow motion.
I don’t know if movie director Harmonie Korine and costume designer Heidi Bivens had all of these references in mind when choosing this Carrera sunglass model, but I think it’s a nice little trivia that only few can appreciate.
Young Adult Charlize Theron Gets Dressed For Her Military Mission With JOIE
The story about the symbolic meaning of Charlize Theron’s gray studded Joie tank top:
Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) is the anti-hero in Jason Reitman’s latest drama Young Adult (2011). She is the ex-college beauty and the fairly successful ghostwriter who returns to her conservative little home town to rescue her ex-love Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson) from his boring life with his wife and newborn child.
Her visit turns out to be very dreadful for all participants while she tries - with different tactics - to win her ex-boyfriend back. For this mission, she dresses herself every night in another sexy outfit to show Buddy what he is missing out on if he stays with his wife Beth (Elizabeth Reaser).
Later in the plot, it becomes more and more clear that Mavis is facing a heavy midlife crisis and that she tries to protect her broken heart under her tough surface of studded clothes, fake hair and perfect make up.
All her attempts during her journey to win Buddy back can be labeled as little military missions to rescue her ex-boyfriend from his alleged miserable life.
Picture Source: Screencab Copyrights by Paramount
This is subtly visualized in her fashion outfits. She wears an oversized studded leather bag that she carries symbolically to protect her inner weakness when she is confronted with the sad reality in Mercury, Minnesota.
Her grey top by fashion brand, Joie, is also a subtle sign that she needs protection: She wears the tank top under her black military frogged jacket when she goes out in a pub for a whisky - as a lonely wolf the first night in her hometown.
Picture Source: RomanticRebel Picture Source: Neiman Marcus Copyrights by Paramount Copyrights by Joie
This archaic styled Yuma Nail Head top is, together with her leather rivets bag and the jacket, a clear sign that she uses her outfit as an armor to protect herself from the dreaded truth she has to face at home.
This is just a little observation, therefore, I don’t know for sure if costume designer David Robinson or movie director Jason Reitman had all of this in mind when choosing this top, but I think it’s a nice little trivia and assumption.
How Penny Tries to Sneak Out Leonard’s Trap Like a Leopard
The subtle reason why Penny wears the red Leopard print blouse:
When Sheldon spoils Leonard’s Harry Potter reading experience, Leonard gets really angry, argues with Sheldon and finally flees to Penny’s apartment. Over there, he continuous to moan about how terrible Sheldon is, while Penny (Kaley Cuoco) cleans the dishes and makes cynical comments. The situation culminates when Leonard says that he wants to move in with her, which makes her uncomfortable and she tries to sneak out of the trap.
Picture Source: Variety Copyrights by CBS
In this scene of The Spoiler Alert Segmentation (S06E15), Penny wears a Rhubarb red and black leopard print blouse by fashion brand Equipment, which visualizes perfectly her situation that she feels trapped like a wild animal who Leonard wants to domesticate by moving in her private sphere. Penny is in a sort of panic, because she loves Leonard, but doesn’t want to live with him permanently. She is too nice to tell this to him directly and therefore she tries unsuccessfully to sneak out of this situation, like a wild Leopard who smells trouble instinctively. Her Emo like style, with a black skirt and makeup might be another hint that she feels quite desperate in this situation.
I don’t know if costume designer Mary T. Quigley had all of this in mind, when choosing this shirt for Penny in this scene as her ‘equipment’ against Leonard, but I think it’s a reasonable assumption.
Selena Gomez’ Faith in Theresa During Her Personal Spring Break
The story behind Selena Gomez’s golden cross necklace that she wore in Spring Breakers (2012).
Selena Gomez plays Faith, the youngest and most religious girl in her best friend group. She is shy and doesn’t like all the drug consuming and robbery in contrast to her friends Cotty (Rachel Korine), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson) who enjoy their new life during her violent holiday trip.
Picture Source: Youtube Trailer Screencap Copyrights by Lionsgate
Faith feels straight away, that the trip won’t have a happy ending and tries unsuccessfully to convince her friends to stop, leave the outlaw life and to drive back home.
The religious gospel meeting which she attends in the beginning of the movie and her character name are hints that she is a bible-believing innocent girl.
That’s probably only one reason, why she doesn’t want to have sex with the stranger and rebel Alien, in contrast to her best friends Candy and Brit. They are keen enough to experience something new, wild and forbidden to break out of their former boring and conservative life at the university.
Picture Source: Weeatfilms Copyrights by Lionsgate
Another symbol of Selena’s faith in God is her golden cross necklace from celebrity jewelry designer, Jennifer Zeuner. It’s called “Theresa”, derived from the French word Thérèse, which means Harvest.
Many saints in the Roman Catholic church are named Theresa and it’s prophetic meaning and connotation fits great to Selena’s role character.
Another detail of the jewelry is that the cross pendant is vertical attached to the necklace - it lays and symbolizes Selena’s stumbling ‘faith’ in her naive fortune. e.g. when Alien tries to kiss her, but leaves her alone when she starts to cry.
After this dramatic incidence, she quickly leaves home and survives the tragic end. This means that her faith in God stumbled but she resisted the temptation of sex, freedom, drugs and money, stopped the tumbling of her heart and saved her soul and life.
I don’t know if movie director Harmony Korine and his costume designer Heidi Bivens had all of this in mind when choosing this piece of jewelry, but I think it’s a nice assumption.
Charlize Theron Is a Broken Hobo Who Seeks Protection in Young Adult (2011)
A costume design review and the story behind Charlize Theron’s black leather shoulder bag.
Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) is the arrogant beauty who visits her childhood home town where she has to face old wounds of an unanswered love to her ex-high school love Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson).
On the surface she is the successful book author and good looking business woman from the big city who is easy going and likes to party.
Under the surface, she is a broken girl in the midlife-crisis with an alcohol problem who observes in the mirror how her beauty fades. Her tough and weak sides are subtly visualized in her fashion outfits like in her black oversized leather bag.
Picture Source: Collider Copyrights by Paramount Pictures
It’s a so-called Hobo model, a name derived from the term ‘Hobos’, the homeless vagabonds who work part-time and travel through America by jumping illegally on trains. This lifestyle of freedom started in the beginning of 1890 until it became really popular in the late 60s. A lot of famous US authors like Jack Kerouac, Jack London or George Orwell used to live and travel as Hobos as a catharsis before they wrote their most popular works.
Hence, the bag model visualizes perfectly her painful but purifying travel home where she finalizes in the end her Young Adult novel.
After an even closer look, I’ve found out that Mavis black leather hobo bag from luxury designer Jimmy Choo is covered with silver rivets and is called ‘Sky’.
The steel studded leather and the big size function like an armor or shield that Mavis uses unconsciously to protect her inner weakness from the ‘normal‘ people and sad reality she had to face. Therefore she wears the bag in situations when she is sober or feels awkward and insecure, like when she enters the low budget hotel and the pub alone as the only woman or visits the grocery- and bookstore in her casual sweatpants and hoodie outfit.
Picture Source: Indiewire Copyrights by Paramount Pictures
Therefore, the bag is a perfect symbol of her two sides: While the costly prize of $1.000 for the designer brand accessory visualize her former success, symbolizes the Hobo model her clarifying travel home, and the rivets signal that she needs protection for her inner weakness.
I don’t know if Jason Reitman and his costume designer David Robinson had all this in mind when choosing this specific bag but I think it’s a nice little detail and interesting assumption.
Don Draper’s Liaison with Tiffany in Mad Men
The story behind Don Draper’s silver money clip in Mad Men:
Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is the elegant alpha male in the Mad Men SCDP office. He is always perfectly dressed in a suit, cares sensitively about the brands he works for, and knows what consumers want.
On the other hand, he is often rude and stubborn if he doesn’t get what he wants—and he wants only the best, like the sterling silver money clip that he uses for his dollar notes.
It’s from the legendary New York jewelry brand, Tiffany & Co. The clip is simple and elegant but expensive due to its high quality, and it therefore corresponds perfectly with Don’s character.
Another trivia is, according to an interview with Mad Men’s property master Gay Perello, that he “…let Jon Hamm pick. I’ll show him three different options. He definitely has an opinion.” (Adam B. Vary, Entertainment Weekly)
I don’t know for sure if the Mad Men creators or in this case actor Jon Hamm had all this in mind when choosing this accessory and brand, but I think it’s an interesting little trivia that worships the detailed work of costume designer Janie Bryant and her team.
Picture Source: Entertainment Weekly
Damn 2.0 or How Sheldon’s Missy Messes in The Big Bang Theory
The story behind Sheldon Cooper’s black Tron t-shirt that he wears while his sister pays him an uncomfortable visit.
In The Big Bang Theory episode ‘The Pork Chop Indeterminacy' (S01E15), Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) gets a surprise visit from his 'little' twin sister Missy (Courtney Henggeler). She literally breaks into Sheldon's ordered world and creates very quick a mess with her beauty among the nerds.
Picture Source: BigBangTheory.Wikia Copyrights by CBS
Her name is a diminutive of a Misses and is probably a subtle hint to the mess she wreaks. The situation in Sheldon’s apartment escalates when he tries to arrange a ‘sexual relationship’ between Missy and Leonard (Johnny Galecki) whereupon she hits him in his balls.
A curious fact is, that Sheldon wears in all these chaotic scenes with Messy the same black t-shirt with a front logo. This graphic scenery is inspired by the SciFi movie TRON (1983) which became later in the 80s also a popular arcade console game. The cult film from the pre-internet era is about a digital virtual world where real gamers drive light cycles in races against each other until only one survives.
Picture Source: BrianWelk Copyright by Disney
The clue is that Sheldon’s T-shirt graphic shows one of these light cycles with a broken pane and a rider who is terrified and helpless about the break in and the mess.
Therefore, the scenery on his shirt describes perfectly the miserable situation Sheldon has to face with his sister Missy in this episode.
Furthermore the t-shirt is created by fashion brand AmesBros and named “Damn 2.0” which is another nice subtle hint, that this is going to be a bad situation for Sheldon.
I don’t know if you’ve already spotted this media reference but I think it’s a nice little fact, that shows again, the deeper meaning of Sheldon’s t-shirt.