Tag Archives: Sharon Tate

Best of TV Costuming 2013: Mad Men and the Megan T-Shirt Conspiracy

5 Dec

It’s the first entry in TV Ate My Wardrobe’s “Best of 2013” costuming series and rather than doing a straightforward countdown we’re going to do a variety of posts that look at which costumes and shows have made a huge impact this year. From items that we want in our own wardrobe to pieces that got everyone talking, we want to look at this year’s TV through the prism of costume.

We’re going to start with the T-shirt that prompted a stream of speculation and conspiracy theories; Megan Draper’s red star tee from the Mad Men  season 6 episode “The Better Half.”

Megan balconyMad Men costume designer Janie Bryant has sparked pages of discussion with her meticulous creations and nothing more so than putting Megan in the same tee that featured in Esquire magazine in 1967 (a year prior to when this episode is set) by none other than Sharon Tate. Tate would be brutally murdered by the Manson Family in 1969 and because Megan shares certain similarities with Sharon Tate this started speculation that Megan would meet a tragic end. I have to admit that I got caught up in this theorizing as season 6 was particularly dark and violent, reflecting the tumultuous period in US history that this season is set in and it looked like Megan was going to become the victim of the season.

Season 5 had many hints at a suicide theme and while all fingers pointed to Pete Campbell, it was actually Lane who took his own life. It’s a fool me twice kind of situation and the only person to meet a potentially grizzly end is Pete’s mother – there is no body and it all happened off screen so it’s not even a definitive murder. Rabid symbolic theorizing isn’t something you might initially think of with Mad Men and yet last season with Megan’s red star shirt it hit Lost levels of debate.

Megan tshirtMegan has always been a character who is ahead of the curve when it comes to fashion trends and this outfit comes across as particularly modern, the nightdress that Peggy wears when she stabs Abe in the same episode – yep this season really did go to some dark places – is what you would expect from this era. Megan’s tee and underwear for the hot summer night is more reminiscent of what someone would wear now. This is what initially stood out about this costuming choice; this all changed when Reddit users started to speculate and Bryant confirmed on Twitter that it was an intentional reference to the Tate Esquire shoot. Cue many blog posts discussing foreshadowing and Megan’s fate.

Everything on Mad Men from the props to the references to the costumes are there for a reason, we all know how specific creator Matthew Weiner can be and because he doesn’t give anything up it encourages these types of discussions. At times it really does feel like he is fucking with us and looking back it seems kind of crazy that one piece of clothing could lead to a conclusion of murder; this is the power of the costuming choices on a show like Mad Men.

I also want to single out Tom and Lorenzo’s incredible textual analysis on their weekly “Mad Style” column; this has been a big influence here at TV Ate My Wardrobe and it shows that costuming goes beyond authenticity of a time period and it can reveal so much without a word being uttered.

What’s in a T-Shirt? The Mad Men Megan Conspiracy Theory

30 May

Coming this Sunday I will be joined by Kerensa Cadenas to follow up our last Mad Men chat (“Falling Out of Love with Don Draper“) and one thing that we will definitely be talking about is the Megan Draper as Sharon Tate conspiracy theory that set Twitter alight yesterday. I just want to address it prior to this longer discussion as it seems to be part of the big Mad Men chatter that follows on from last season’s ‘Pete Campbell is going to kill himself’ clues. This ended with Lane hanging himself instead; is this another misdirect?

Megan balconyLet’s start with the t-shirt, which on a first watch I thought nothing more than “it’s a cute shirt” and it must be a warm night for Megan to be standing out on the balcony in so little. While I’m assuming that it is what Megan will be wearing to bed it’s very different to the formal nightwear that the female characters tend to wear on this show and Megan’s clothes in this episode were the most modern that we have seen so far. This isn’t in an ‘out there’ fashion forward way as with some of the other pieces we have seen this season, but as casual clothes that wouldn’t look out of place on the high street today.

While none of these things point towards the idea that Megan is in danger some eagle eyed viewers over at Reddit noticed that this t-shirt is one that was modelled by murdered actress Sharon Tate (who was killed a year later in 1969 by the Manson Family). Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant then confirmed on Twitter that it was “no coincidence” and this set in motion a chain of theorizing. Aspects that might point to a violent end for Megan include; the loud sirens in two of Megan’s scenes, both of Abe’s stabbing incidents, the mention of shootings in Central Park, the intruder in the previous episode, Megan is an actress as was Sharon Tate and Megan’s Sharon Tate like appearance in the promo photos for this season (Tom and Lorenzo are as usual producing some exceptional costume analysis on their weekly “Mad Style” feature and were the ones to originally mention this).

Other signs that point to a potentially grizzly end for Megan include the key art for this season, featuring a heavy police presence in the background. This could just be a reflection of the unrest that is being felt across the country and as I mentioned in my review I thought the sirens could be a sign that all of New York is experiencing a rise in crime; with the foreshadowing pointing to her co-star Arlene’s future and not Megan. I also thought it was interesting that neither Megan and Don mentioned the sirens, mostly likely because they have become used to them. Megan has become increasingly isolated as the season has progressed and if a suicide hadn’t happened last season then this might be part of the discussion instead of murder.

Megan tshirtAt The Daily Beast Jace Lacob has spoken to Janie Bryant about this choice of shirt for Megan and instead of pointing to Tate’s fate she explains that “It’s the Vietnam star. We saw a little bit of how Megan was so upset after Bobby Kennedy was shot, it really is so much a part of the turmoil happening during that period.” This might be Bryant attempting to deflect attention away from what could potentially be a huge spoiler (and we all know how creator Matthew Weiner feels about those) but it does also tie in with the amount of crime that is happening in the city and the political unrest nationwide.

So is this one conspiracy theory too many? Sunday’s discussion will also feature the enigma that is Bob Benson and plenty of theories have been popping up about this character as well. This is part of the fun surrounding Mad Men discourse; the subtext could be pointing to something completely different and thanks to the lack of spoilers (I know Weiner is a bit over the top with this but I also think it works for this show) it means that conversation like this can develop. It’s reminds me of watching Lost when we were all trying to understand the smoke monster and the numbers; it’s these aspects that can bring an audience together as we try to collectively figure out what these clues mean.

Is this t-shirt a sign of Megan’s doom or just a sign of a turbulent time? Should Megan’s co-star Arlene be worried about her future? What are the most outlandish Mad Men conspiracy theories that you have heard?

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