Once upon a time, there were men who wore impeccably fitted suit and slicked back hair because style mattered greatly. Who did three-martini lunches and smoked like a chimney. Led risqué lives twiddling between a wife and a concubine. Flirted rampantly and swayed their female subordinates with cheeky humor. Sashayed around as if they were the center of the universe. Striking often a mean beat, it was easy to hate them but difficult to ignore them for there was something undeniably cool about those mad men of the 1960s.
A brilliant idea – that’s what turned a simple product into a great brand. That’s what the advertising executives of Madison Avenue yearned for – day and night. They donned their creative hats and did not stop until they crafted an out-of-the-box idea. So pulling an all-nighter for 76 hours wasn’t work; it was play. Arguing vigorously with team members wasn’t pain; it was pure pleasure. Drinking whiskey on duty wasn’t vice; it was wise. It was a forgivable crime in the name of inspiration and creativity. Keeping the clients happy was a part of their jobs, thus dining and wining, and other “activities” were welcomed. Those ad men were crazy folks. They worked hard, and partied harder, and thus the expression “mad men” – a term coined for them, by them.
Mad Men, AMC’s critically acclaimed drama chronicles the New York advertising world in the 1960s. The show delves deeply into the chauvinist society, the rise of American consumerism, and also mirrors issues like racism, gender roles and general social prejudices.
The show oozes class, style and sophistication. A brilliant screenplay, solid dialogues, and a rich ensemble cast elevate this award-winning series to a different level. Apart from the leading man, Don Draper, characters like Roger Sterling, Peggy Olson, Peter Campbell, Joan Harris, and Betty Draper offer an interesting cocktail of talent and chic. None of these actors were known faces, but post Mad Men, they all became shinning stars high up in the Hollywood skies. One of the most noteworthy things about the show is the detailing, and the concentrated effort to set up a 60s world. The true beauty of this show is in the details. Of course, fashion, hair-dos, furniture, cars, and other period pieces are immaculate. But what is also interesting is the special attention paid to even the most minuscule and inconsequential objects. Texture of apples, shape and pattern of ties, even cut of diamonds were under microscopic vision, and the experts say, were era-specific! The brilliance also lies in the subtlety and subtext. Without elaborate drama and exaggeration, more is delivered in little.
Mad Men is like a time machine; it just transports you from “here” to “there”. Past becomes present and you become a New Yorker of the 1960s. As you walk through people’s homes and lives, you also become a part of the social and political upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s. You become a part of historical events like Kennedy and Martin Luther’s assassinations, Democratic convention, Nixon’s victory, and Civil Rights protest. You witness history being made. You get to see how these changes affected people’s lives, or how they reacted to the fundamental shifts in society. You become a part of the war conversations and empathize with the young lads going to Vietnam War. You absorb people’s emotions; the pain in women’s heart when their idol Marilyn Monroe commits suicide or the joy when Neil Armstrong lands in moon.
Mad Men is like a lavish spread of delicious foods. Hence it deserves to be savored slowly, one episode at a time, and ruminated while lying in the bed. But, you are never satiated. Even long after you’ve consumed all the seven seasons, you’re still hungry for more, or at least you think about the delicious feast. Mad Men lives on your mind for a long time. Maybe forever.