Mad Men, season premiere, April 7, AMC
Boomer fans will especially enjoy the new sixth season of what's arguably the greatest TV drama ever, now that it’s finally landed full-on in the era of our youth. Beyond the thrill of seeing how sex, drugs, Vietnam and rock 'n' roll take their toll on Don Draper and company, we get the fun of the flashback-inducing fashion show when Mad Men goes mod. Don does plaid! Megan gets a bouffant! Teen Sally dons orange mohair! And best of all: Pete sprouts sideburns!
Before we marched for civil rights, the struggles of African-Americans in the face of racism tended to be private, day-to-day ones — until Jackie Robinson came along and made headlines. This film follows one of the greatest heroes of our parents’ generation: the first African-American to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball, galvanizing the nation by forcing it to confront its worst demons. It’s a powerful story — and it’s not about baseball. After a White House screening Michelle Obama said, "We walked away from that just visibly, physically moved by the experience.”
Wheelhouse, Brad Paisley
The latest wave of country music stars keep pushing the boundaries of the genre into pop, rock and hip hop, so it’s no surprise that the title of Brad Paisley’s latest record reflects its experimental vibe. With guest artists that run the gamut from country stalwarts like Charlie Daniels to rapper LL Cool J and even a comedian, Eric Idle, Wheelhouse “is all about leaving your comfort zone,” Paisley says. “What is my wheelhouse? We have tried to go out on a limb and see how far we can stretch things.”
Out of Order, Sandra Day O’Connnor
“We don't hire women.” That’s what no fewer than 40 firms told Stanford Law School magna cum laude graduate Sandra Day O’Connor in 1950, about 30 years before she would be sworn in by President Ronald Reagan on July 7, 1981, as the first female Supreme Court justice in U.S. history. From that spectacular vantage point, O’Connor, (now 83) offers this chronicle of the history of the Supreme Court. Civics trivia buffs will revel in the fact-packed Out of Order, with such nuggets as how many justices have died in office, which president nominated the most justices and which justice had the best jump shot on the court’s court. (Yes, the justices shoot hoops.)
WORTH THE TRIP
Picasso and Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago
“The Chicago Picasso” as the famed Daley Plaza sculpture has come to be known, is as closely identified with the city as the Cubbies, wind and deep-dish pizza. Now visitors and locals alike have a rare chance to discover the rest of the story of Picasso and Chicago, which began just after New York City’s Armory Show (with works by Picasso, Matisse, Duchamp and the like) unleashed modernism on America, sending the art world into a tailspin. Back in 1913 Chicago was the only city with the temerity to hang the shocking work on the walls of a museum. This exhibition celebrates the centennial of that Art Institute milestone by showcasing 250 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings and ceramics, all from Chicago-area collectors and the institute’s own vast collection.
Pamela Miller is a freelance writer who lives in Los Angeles.