In a show that’s packed with symbolism, could a T-shirt serve as a death omen?
After Sunday night’s episode of Mad Men, an observant viewer tweeted at costume designer Janie Bryant to ask about the similarity between a T-shirt seen on Megan Draper and one worn by model Sharon Tate in a 1967 photo shoot for Esquire magazine, and Bryant’s less-than-crystal-clear response has sparked talk of a costume-driven conspiracy theory on Reddit.
In August 1969, Tate — then eight-and-a-half-months pregnant and married to director Roman Polanski — was murdered by followers of Charles Manson during a home invasion at the couple’s home in Los Angeles. Does the red star on Megan Draper’s shirt mean that the character is headed towards a similar fate?
“Dying to know if this pic of Sharon Tate inspired Megan’s look? My dad shot it for @esquiremag in ’67,” @BHisaRockstar tweeted at Bryant. The designer’s reply? “No coincidence.”
Bryant’s response could be interpreted as “it’s no coincidence” or “no, it was a coincidence.” So far the designer hasn’t provided any clarification, which has Mad Men fans letting their imaginations run wild.
“I totally buy the link. Tate was murdered in August of 1969, so next season probably. She was murdered by a home invasion, and this season of Mad Men seems to be really emphasizing (normalizing?) the idea of the home being ‘invaded’ by the outside,” writes one Reddit commenter. Says another: “It would be a huge move to have a character to enter a historical event and replace a victim in this way. I love the idea, but still. Maybe Megan isn’t Sharon Tate, but will eventually die in the same manner? The shirt is just alluding to her future demise by hinting at a real event?”
Though series creator Matthew Weiner has been accused of being a little heavy-handed with his use of symbolism — especially when it comes to the subject of death and dying — a direct link between the tragic end of Sharon Tate and the fate of Megan Draper seems too easy. “We see Abe being stabbed in the chest, and then cut to Megan wearing a Tshirt with a big RED star (right where Abe was just stabbed),” notes one Reddit commenter, while another adds; “In fact, in retrospect it wasn’t even that subtle an attempt to draw a parallel of what Peggy had done to Abe and what Don has been doing to Megan.”
In an interview with EW last month, Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant said that real-life 1960’s style icons actually have very little influence on what the show’s characters wear.
“It’s not just one or a few actresses or models or style icons, that’s not what the show is about. It’s really about each individual character. I get inspired by a lot of different things, and one is the script and the things that these characters say to each other…. and it’s that process of doing research and being inspired by different visual outlets, whether it be a TV show, a catalogue, a magazine, a photograph, or getting inspired by going through newspapers,” the designer explained. “We’ve seen New York City decaying. There’s trash and garbage and filth everywhere at this time and I think it’s also reflected in the costume design. Everything is broken down and the shininess has worn off.”
— with reporting by Lindsey Bahr
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