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Mad about it

  • Aug 19, 2009
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I’ve heard non-stop praise and acclaim about Mad Men over the last two years. Having only seen promotional clips, I was skeptical about the hype. To me, it looked like a peek into a time when men acted as self-interested, arrogant and cut-throat possible; while women played subservient roles in traditional family households and dealt with unimaginable amounts of sexist behavior. Who needs to see more of that? But similar to my fortunate rendezvous with Showtime’s Dexter OnDemand, one lazy Sunday night I turned on AMC to find a series of Mad Men episodes. And so began my love affair with these mad men (and women)!

As par for the course, I was shocked by the treatment of women at home and the work place, the overt sexual and condescending comments by not one, but ALL of the ad men, and Don Draper’s constant infidelity.  But slowly, Draper’s intense character, wrought with emotional turmoil, began to win me over. There’s no doubt he’s a genius in the boardroom and has a penchant for ad creations that play off public heart strings. His secret double life was an instant hook and kept me curious and watching. I had hoped for the reformation of Don’s private life after his oceanic baptism scene at the end of last season. Unfortunately, this first episode of season three put Don right back on the path of “disrespectful” behavior (as he so put it to his wife). 

One of the highlights of the show for me is the evolution of female cast.  You can see each of them struggle with their stifling roles at home and work.  I was surprised by Betty Draper’s steadfast ability to kick Don out of the house after exposing his womanizing ways. Her character is sweet, pleasant, and seemingly vulnerable, but last season showed us her strength. 

Joan Holloway is one of my favorite characters. She plays to her looks and is overly flirtatious with her male counterparts, but knows her limits. She’s coy and clever and has more responsibility that any other women in office. You can see her struggle with interest to do more at work (i.e. her brief script reading job and pitch), and quietly rage when an opportunity that should be hers is given to a new, young male. A bit older than the rest of the secretaries, she seems determined not to settle in her love life. I’m curious to see how she handles her engagement to Dr. Greg Harris. Personally, I hope she kicks him to the curb!

Lastly, Peggy Olson impresses me with her character’s range. Olson balances the corrupt vices of the advertising industry with the constant pull of her strict religious background. Sterling Cooper has an obvious, corrosive effect on her innocence, but she continues to recover with grace.

Plus, the efforts to recreate the bygone business age are fantastic. I feel directly transported into the 60’s, complete with alcohol filled workdays and highball hour. Have you ever seen so much drinking? In fact, a recent New York Times article detailed the accuracy of the cocktail consumption in the show. Mirroring the meticulous attention advertisers give to the subtle details that create a favorable impression of a service or product, the writers and production staff definitely do their cocktail homework. A lot of creative input goes into each character’s drink on account of the cultural importance of liquor as well as the efficiency of cocktail-fueled deals.

Next Sunday, you’ll find me watching Mad Men with an appropriately prepared vodka gimlet (now found on my Refreshing Summer Cocktails List) and a renewed appreciation for the height of the advertising industry.

Mad Men

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September 22, 2010
Excellent review. I hope you're all caught up and watching Season 4. Jon Hamm is doing his best work yet, but Peggy's character is really kicked up a notch, and the actress who plays Don's daughter Sally just gave a fabulous performance in the September 19 episode. The show is still charging ahead full steam.
November 21, 2009
I'm a little late but how did you like the season 3 finale?! what do you think of henry!? AHHH MY LIFE IS SO INCOMPLETE WITHOUT IT ALREADY. IS IT NEXT YEAR YET?
August 23, 2009
sigh. I will have to make time in watching this. I too have heard awesome things about it....great review.
August 19, 2009
Wow...Great Review! I am definitely going to start watching these on DVD. Thanks
August 19, 2009
This is an awesome review!  Everyone keeps talking about this show!  I might have to catch it on DVD or OnDemand.  Have you watched any of Sons of Anarchy?  It's going into its second season and it is one of my favorite new shows on TV.
More Mad Men reviews
Quick Tip by . January 08, 2012
posted in Pass The Remote!
I've watched several episodes of Mad Men, and I totally understand why its so appealing. It's well-written and very stark and blunt in its portrayal of social attitudes and norms from the 1950's and 60's. And Alison Brie is in it. But I just can't really get into it myself. Maybe I was in the wrong mood or something, but it just hasn't grown on me the way it has other people.
review by . September 21, 2009
Mad Men is well casted, well acted, well written and well directed - it's pretty much everything that regular TV is not. And while the first season was really addictive, I've spotted the formula which has meant we've more or less lost interest in the show. This was mainly due to the fact that we had a weekend marathon of watching all the episodes (thanks, Amazon Video-on-Demand!).      Mad Men catches viewers' interest by injecting story lines that never get resolved: the lead …
Quick Tip by . October 09, 2010
If you were alive in the early 60s, even if you were very young, this show will bring bacjk things you thought you had forgotten.
Quick Tip by . July 10, 2010
Donald Draper is the most lovable misogynist I've ever known, and I simply cannot get enough of Joan Holloway, (she was quite a fox as Saffron in Firefly, as well, but the clothing of this period really does suit her well).
Quick Tip by . May 18, 2010
An exquisitely made series. Intelligent, sharp, witty and totally engrossing. Well worth your time.
Quick Tip by . August 20, 2009
Super awesome costumes, makeup and savoir faire (sp?). Very satisfying slow burner. MORE MORE MORE!!!
About the reviewer
Bethany ()
Hello Lunchers!      I am a contributing writer foran onlinelife and style website that highlights hot-spots in Minneapolis and Chicago. As such, I frequent many new boutiques, restaurants, … more
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About this tv show


Mad Men is an American television drama series created and produced by Matthew Weiner. It is produced by Lionsgate Television and is broadcast on the cable network AMC. It premiered on July 19, 2007, and completed its second season on October 26, 2008. The third season is scheduled to begin August 2009.

Set in New York City, Mad Men begins in the early 1960s at the fictional Sterling Cooper advertising agency on New York City's Madison Avenue. The show centers on Don Draper (Jon Hamm), a high-level advertising creative director, and the people in his life in and out of the office. It also depicts the changing social mores of 1960s America.

Mad Men has received widespread critical acclaim, particularly for its historical authenticity and visual style, and has won numerous awards, including three Golden Globes, a BAFTA and six Emmys. It is the second cable series to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series and the first basic cable series to do so.

Lead characters

  • Don Draper (born in 1925 as Richard "Dick" Whitman) (Jon Hamm): Creative director and eventual junior partner of Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency; Draper is the series' protagonist.
  • Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss): She began as the ostensibly naïve "new girl" at Sterling Cooper. Starting as Draper's unassuming new secretary, Peggy showed a talent in advertising strikingly similar to Draper's own.
  • Peter "Pete" Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser): A young, ...
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