If you haven’t watched Mad Men yet, I highly recommend it. The series originally aired from 2007 to 2015, making it quite an older show. But since the story unfolds in the 1960s-1970s era, it doesn’t immediately feel outdated. Well, except for the fact that the 1960s was full of dated attitudes and opinions. The series is spectacular in every aspect: from the costumes to the characters and the storylines. Need more convincing?
Mad Men – The Advertisers
The title refers to the name given to the big advertising firms on Madison Avenue: Mad(ison) Men. Additionally, they are also ad-men: the men who create advertisements for major brands and products. Advertising was still relatively new and the firms competed to be as original as possible. One of these firms employs Don Draper, a mysterious and brilliant man who crafts slogans, sets the tone in advertisements and seems to know precisely which strings to pull to resonate with his audience.
Don is married and has two children, a picture-perfect family that seems to have stepped right out of his own ads. His wife is stunning and used to be a model. She bears a resemblance to Princess Grace and doesn’t have much to do during the day. After all, they have a housekeeper to take care of the household chores and Mrs. Draper isn’t particularly ambitious. She seeks distraction in smoking cigarettes, discreet drinking, shopping, and ensuring her young daughter doesn’t become overweight.
The Ladies of Mad Men
Despite the series revolving around the men of the Sterling Cooper advertising agency, it’s the roles of the women in Mad Men that make it particularly interesting. Look at Peggy Olsen, a young woman taken from the typing pool to work as Don’s assistant. She has her own ideas and it would be wonderful if Don recognized her talent and became her mentor. However, she must fight hard to break free from sitting behind the typewriter.
The secretaries and assistants are led by Joan Holloway, a beautiful woman with a sharp mind who always has the right answers and solutions. She’s having an affair with the married Roger Sterling, hoping that Roger will leave his wife for her. Later, Megan joins the group, who, like Peggy, also has great ideas. But her heart lies elsewhere, and she bravely chooses a different future.
The 1960s Era
Although I’m not old enough to have experienced the 1960s, the atmosphere in the office feels very familiar. Despite being a creative profession, the office and décor are quite dull. It reminds me of what I remember from the offices of the 1970s (from my childhood, of course)! The typewriters, desks and furniture all feel very authentic. It also made me realize how quickly we’ve become accustomed to things like mobile phones. In the past, there were rotary phones with those coiled cords. Smoking is also seen everywhere in the series. I remember that too: people smoking until the room was filled with blue smoke.
You also witness the gradual change in fashion. From petticoats and wide skirts to sleeker silhouettes. Hairstyles change as well. Slowly, you see the old-fashioned 1950s fashion transition to the freer and more colorful fashion of the late 1960s. Shorter skirts and brighter colors, for example. An interesting scene is when Don and Betty’s growing daughter is allowed to attend an adult dinner at a restaurant for the first time. She dresses according to the young fashion of the day, but Don – who usually has no problem with women wearing short skirts – becomes very concerned that his little girl looks too mature.
A Series to Watch Together
Mad Men is an excellent series to watch together with your partner (or family). With such a diverse set of characters, there’s always someone you can identify with. Don is the main character, and much revolves around his mysterious past. But Peggy is just as fascinating, and Joan’s career is impressive. Joan bounces back from setbacks so well, even though she always has to work hard for it. Each episode provides plenty of material for discussion. It’s truly a series to enjoy.
Mad Men is currently available to stream on Prime Video.