Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Mike at https://musiccitymike.net
As was the case with my previous draft pick, Breaking Bad, AMC’s Mad Men was one of the few other shows in recent memory whose brilliance found me watching regularly as it ran every week. Mad Men also undoubtedly holds the record for the show generating the most morning after talk in the office.
If the show is unfamiliar to you, the “Mad” is short for Madison Avenue and the series is a look at the high-pressure world of advertising centered in Manhattan in the 1960s. Pun intended, “mad” is also an apt description of the behavior the “men” in the show exhibit.
In assessing Mad Men’s appeal, there are several reasons for my loving this show. The first no doubt has to do with my age and having lived through its period setting of this historic decade. Visually, through the styles of dress and the décor of both home and office, the show brilliantly captures of the feel of the era. Like another current show that I enjoy, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, I am just captivated by the vibrant imagery that so captures the visuals of the 60s. Perhaps it’s just my long-lost nostalgia for those days?
Although I had yet to join the work force until the late 70s, Mad Men also so accurately depicts the office politics as they were back then. First and foremost were the ways men treated women and the way alcohol was a primal part of the business world back then. It was also a time when it seemed like everyone smoked and without ever getting a mean look, they smoked everywhere.
Front and center was Jon Hamm’s lead role as Don Draper, a man whose behavior was as easily despised as his creativity was admired. The train wreck of his career from his puzzling self-destructive behavior, fueled by his booze-driven lust for women, was inevitable. You see it coming and wonder when he will hit bottom and whether he will recover.
The rest of the cast is equally appealing, and the ladies really steal the show in terms of presenting the evolution of women through the decade. This was true both at home through the character of Draper’s wife Betty played by January Jones and at work by the sexy but savvy Joan Harris played by Christina Henricks and the naive but otherwise smart, Peggy Olson, played by Elizabeth Moss. Joan struggles and eventually attains success despite having to overcome the beauty nature has given her while Peggy ultimately overcomes the hand she was dealt from her sheltered upbringing.
As for the other guys, John Slattery’s Roger Sterling was akin to Draper in terms of despicability while Vincent Kartheiser’s Pete Campbell faults took the cake due to the massive layer of immaturity that he could never overcome. And what a delight to see Broadway legend Robert Morse come out of hiding with a recurring role and even gift us with a dream sequence musical number!
The top appeal of Mad Men however though may be how actual history gets interwoven into its storylines. It was fun to see notable events and figures pass through as it was for emerging fashions and changing trends. All this also created great viewer anticipation as the years flew by. You knew that sooner or later we’d see JFK, The Beatles, and the space program.
And without spoiling anything, actual advertising history makes its way into one of the greatest endings in TV series history. Mad Men also featured one of the most infectious opening sequences of all time combining slick instrumental music to a clever graphic animation.
Kudos to show creator Matthew Weiner for seven brilliant seasons. Deservedly, Mad Men won 16 Emmys. It’s another show that I look to repeating in its entirety.