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Big Love and Mad Men: is America free-floating with anxiety?

While most of the country was watching the Oscars, HBO was airing the finale of Season 4 of Big Love, its drama about a polygamous family in Utah.

Big Love has been one of the best dramas on TV these past few months. It is interesting how its focus on a non-mainstream family raises questions about family life generally. I found this season's new opening sequence both mesmerizing and kind of unsettling. Here it is:

I wondered why it bothered me, and then I realized that the characters were free-floating, and the word I associate with that is anxiety. And certainly there has been a lot of anxiety in Big Love this season. I then recalled that Mad Men's opening also involves a person floating through the air:

Mad Men Main Title Sequence from Steve Fuller on Vimeo.

Mad Men's opening has the businessman falling down from a skyscraper. I'm sure someone has pointed this out, but this obviously evokes 9/11, even though the series is ostensibly about the 1960s. And I wondered to what extent falling through the air has become a theme in the popular culture. I do know that one of the first novels to address 9/11, Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, uses the images of people jumping out of the Twin Towers. In fact, the book has a series of photos that, taken together, reverses the process, and has the people drifting upwards.

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