Friday, November 19, 2010

The Madness of "Mad Men"

I'd heard very little about "Mad Men," just that it was hot. At a friend's party a few months back, one of the guests was gushing about the show, trying to involve me, and I replied "I've never seen it." He was shocked, gasped, and said I simply HAD to. Then told me doing so would make me want to chain smoke and drink whiskey. Having seen season one, I can confidently say, I wish to do neither of those things, but I do now know what the fuss is about.

The show is smart. The writing is top-notch. The acting is good. I love the casting, as well. I know it's been discussed, at length, in many other places, but the historical attention to detail is magnificent. Assuming you're like I was a few weeks back and know nothing about it, "Mad Men" is a show about the world of advertising executives in 1960 (beginning of the first season). The main character is Don Draper, a big man at the firm with a mysterious past- seriously, nobody seems to know anything about his past, even his wife. Other characters are introduced- co-workers, neighbors, family -and though their roles are often minor, their stories are intertwine with the main one that involve Draper.

I read an article recently (forgive me, I don't remember where) where the writer discussed meeting a number of women who refuse to watch the successful drama. Why? They remember being treated the way the female characters in the show are treated. Let's just say, 1960: WAY before any kind of sexual harassment laws. I spoke to a co-worker recently about this show, who said she was of an age to join the workforce in the mid-1960s and she won't watch the show for that reason. I described a bit from the first episode, where a new girl is being shown to her desk and given advice by the office manager (the incredible Joan Hollaway, played by Christina Hendricks), and my co-worker asked if the men called the new employee "fresh meat." I looked at her and said, no, but they sure looked at her that way. My co-worker went on to say, that as a young 20 something starting her job, she was called "fresh meat" and at some point later on was propositioned by an "old dude" who worked there. (He explained his wife was an invalid and he wanted a companion to go to dinners, the theatre...would she be interested? She declined.) On similar note, a friend of mine said her husband refuses to watch. His reason? "I just can't stand the way they talk to those women!"

So we know that the interactions are played authentically, how about the rest? Well, it's just beautiful. Clothes, cars, decor- all 1960s. It's fantastic. Even the smoking- which I learned online are herbal cigarettes, because there's no way it would be legal to actually smoke that much on a set. It's very apparent that the folks behind "Mad Men" are very detail-oriented and strive for accuracy.

Now, we have season 2 to watch, god willing. (It's a library copy, which can sometimes be rather banged up.) I know I will continue to enjoy this show, even if at least once every episode I laugh, snort derisively, or just say "Wow!"

1 comment:

  1. I heard they had a fruit basket in one shot and the director had the apples changed because the "modern" apples are far larger than they would have been back then. Talk about accuracy :)