Mad Men Seasons 1-3

Posted: 21st April 2010 by Mister Critic in Random
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It is the show that makes you wonder what your grandparents really were doing during the good old days.

Mad Men follows the lives of several individuals working on Madison Avenue (hence the title Mad Men) in New York City at the advertising agency Sterling Cooper starting with season one in the mid-1950 to season 3 ending around the mid-1960s.

I started watching Mad Men on DVD soon after having watched Revolutionary Road, a movie about a similar time period focusing on the lives of a suburban couple in the 1950s. I did not like Revolutionary Road (maybe to be discussed in a different review), so I was concerned Mad Men would end up a cheap knock off in comparison.  I was very happy that I was wrong.

My favorite thing about this show is seeing the inner workings of an advertising agency. You watch as the accounts men scramble to secure a company’s business, taking them out to two-three-four martini lunches, or illicit after hours activities. Once the client is on board, it is up to creative to pitch the great ideas. I love to see what the boss will say about a certain idea, and trying to figure out what would be the best campaign.  The beset answer the main character gives as to why a certain ad works is: “Because men want her and women want to be her.” That slogan works for everything…except for STD public service announcements.

Having watched the show on DVD in three hour blocks, I cannot really say that any one episode stood out to me.  Instead, I take the show as a whole and the thing I like best is its characters. There is the young woman trying to make it in a man’s world.  There is the closeted gay man trying to hide his true self from the prejudiced workplace. The entire cast is filled with superb actors, and although there is no character free from blemish, I dare you not to root for at least one person in this show.

Most fascinating to me is the main character Don Draper, the confident ad man with a secret background.  At times, he is so suave, all knowing and untouchable, and yet at other times so human and hurt. He is a character that gets a chance to remake himself from a poor farm boy into a rich family man and yet he is still unsatisfied for reasons he will never comprehend.  Draper embodies an archetype of the modern American man, one I have actually witnessed in real life, striving to pull himself up by his bootstraps, searching for success and no matter what has been achieved, he cannot be happy.  Or is he just a selfish prick that likes to hurt people?  Watch the show and decide for yourself.  And even though you may not agree with his choices or like his behavior, on some level isn’t it true? Women want him and men want to be him.

Mad Men will return for its fourth season on AMC on July 25