Mad Men More Than Smoke, Booze, Suits

Before I get this post going and decide to interrupt it with a piece of irrelevant trivia, I want you to know January Jones and I went to the same high school.

I bring it up because I’ve just started watching season one of Mad Men, the AMC show about an advertising agency on Madison Avenue in New York City during the 1960s. (Jones plays Betty Draper, the wife of Jon Hamm’s lead character, Don.) This is my second attempt at watching the show. The first attempt ended with my girlfriend horrified by the sexism and me feeling kind of, well, bored.

Now that I’m working at a place akin to the Sterling Cooper agency from the show, I’m taking more interest. I’m just two episodes in, but one thing I admire is the creative process. That’s what brings people like myself to the business of advertising and marketing  — those moments when you’re in a quiet room with your colleagues, and you can almost hear the ideas bouncing off the walls. It’s a brilliant silence and Mad Men captures it well.

I’m borrowing the first season from my mom. She was born in 1958 so she probably relates to the Draper children better than Don or  Betty. The show has been applauded for its remarkable honesty to the era, so I can only imagine what it’s like for her to have this wildly successful drama reflect the earliest memories of her childhood.

A few early observations from season one:

  • So. Much. Smoking. I wanted to cough at times during the first few episodes. Once you’ve see a gynecologist smoking during an exam, you know you’ve been taken not just to a different era, but a different world.
  • Joan Holloway, played by Christina Hendricks, is the one female character on TV right now with the looks to transform society’s views on female beauty. Hendricks is considered “busty” by today’s standards. In reality, she’s shaped like a normal, healthy woman. Glad to see she’s being celebrated for not being the uber-skinny type.
  • As I write this, I’m at working in a short-sleeve flannel button-up, blue jeans and a pair of brown leather shoes. Man, I wish we dressed now like they did back then. Let’s revert back to suits and dresses, huh? I dressed better than this going to some of my college classes. Now, I’m a professional? Something’s wrong here.
  • I’ve always respected movies and shows that can do a lot with silence. Dialogue is easy. It’s what you do with silence that shows mastery.

There’s no chance in hell I’ll finish the first three seasons or have AMC by the weekend when season four premieres. If there’s any Mad Men fans out there, I’d love to hear how you came to the show and what you like or dislike about it.

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7 thoughts on “Mad Men More Than Smoke, Booze, Suits

  1. I asked for Season 1 for Christmas right after it came out on DVD. I had heard Jon Hamm on a podcast, and read reviews for Mad Men. No idea what it was about. It took me until about the sixth episode or so to be completely hooked.

    Now, I’d say that the first three seasons have been the best TV in the history of TV. I love everything about it. Miller, when you see ‘The Carousel,’ you’ll agree.

  2. I have never seen a minute of this show (like pretty much anything else on television in the last five years or so), but I totally applaud your comment on the style of that era. I love classic men’s fashion, and I get my Cary Grant on every chance I get. In just the last year or so, it occured to me that I didn’t need to wait for certain occasions; I could just dress like that all the time. My wardrobe is still in the early stages, but I turn head every time I enter a class room or meeting. As long as you don’t mind being glaringly overdressed for almost every occasion, there is no reason to pine for this look: just do it!

  3. I had a few cocktails one night and came home to my apartment around 1 AM. This was during the first season of Mad Med. I caught a minimarathon that was 6 episodes long. Needless to say it was 7 AM and I was completely hooked on the show. It’s the Best Show On TV.

  4. I always wanted to watch the show but never had the time until I made my way East. I bought the first two seasons on DVD and watched the 3rd season on TV. Great stuff. As you previously stated, it’s the little things that make the show great. The kids not wearing seatbelts, drinking heavily during lunch, minor racism and generally overt sexism. What always brings me back is the honesty of the characters and how everyone interacts with one another. These are ‘real’ people, not a puppet that Tyler Perry made up in the shower.

    • Or the little daughter in the second episode playing with a huge plastic bag over her head. Mrs. Draper gets upset because it means her drycleaned clothes are probably on the floor.

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