Mad Men. Sexy, suave, smart and the confidence to boot – that’s the nature of the men down Madison Avenue in sixties New York, amidst the creative squalor of a decade that encapsulated a decadent culture and the need for more. Having heard the ooh’s and aah’s from the entertainment critics of US cable TV, I tried my hand at watching Matthew Weiner‘s Mad Men, backed by the pleasant experience of watching Dexter Morgan butchering vermin over 5 seasons.
Two seasons down and having watched an entire season in one go over the weekend, that would give a fair idea of where my loyalties lie when it comes to taking a stand on the ad execs at Sterling Cooper.
Mad Men is a showcase of the lives, times and cultural ethos that enveloped America in an era of spiritual and sociological turmoil that would further be exacerbated by the Vietnam War. The spirit of capitalism was at its peak and a Stepford society was never too far for the ‘modern’ family of this time.
Mad Men simply takes these cultural and counter-cultural references and incorporates them with enough dramatic licence to build a solid case for the rise of individualism. With strong characterisations backed by brilliant acting and a script worth its weight as emphasised by network ratings, Mad Men has well and truly enamoured me enough to ‘order’ the third season.
Highly stylised without losing its essence, Mad Men revels in its characters. Every smirk, raised eyebrow, catcall, every bit of sexism and political incorrectness that was suitably ‘justified’ in that decade is delivered with the right mix of realism and drama. The incorporation of elements that we know as pop culture phenomenons adds to the smartness and the flexible reach of the show.
And then there’s Don Draper – the morally ambiguous protagonist of Mad Men who besides being the Creative Head of the agency, finds time to womanise, hide his past and be the family man that every American women worth her Stepford badge aspires for. Jon Hamm is simply brilliant in the role that has defined his star power in Hollywood. The supporting cast stands out as well with an impressive turn by Colin Hanks as the good padre. I always thought he was in Hollywood cause of his papa, but I guess he is justifying his presence nowadays.
As Season 3 makes its way to me, I shift back to the time when I thought ‘Lost’ was cool and ’24’ really kicked ass. WTF Mad Men does all this and more without raising a finger, save Don Draper’s fists of fury against a sarcastic comedian who may have been responsible for breaking his family.
Here’s to the men on Madison Avenue, especially the Sterling Cooper gang. I love the womanising, the drinking, the smoking, the selfish genes. You guys have really made an impression on me.