Wednesday, August 1, 2007

In Defense of Mad Men

OK, we are two episodes into this thing and I'm starting to latch on to AMC new drama series, Mad Men. I'm getting interested in Don Draper and his philanderings and Peggy Olson's missteps trying to navigate the shark tank that is Sterling Cooper.

Of course, I dig the MCM trappings of the show. My wife and I spend a lot of our time going, "Wow, look at that!" or "Is that Wegner?" It gets a lot of the period details right. If you want to get a little of the MCM flava, check the link above for an episode 2 sneak peek (episode 3 is tomorrow at 9).

However, when I look at the comments on the Mad Men blog, it seems not everyone is latching on. More people are bitching about the amount of smoking or whether the IBM Selectric was a 1960 or a 1961. Some don't buy the story as believeable or realistic. Sez one commenter:

As the son of a Madison Ave creative director, I have to laugh. My dad worked for BBDO during this time and he says the show is complete BS, except that they got the decor of the offices right. Sure they drank and smoked, but the portrayal of how things went is totally overblown. It was an intense, high pressure job and there was alot on the line, but they didnt act that way. He also says that he NEVER heard the term "Mad Men" either. My mom was also a million times more sophisticated than the portrayal of the wife of the ad guy too. It's too bad everyone is buying this. I work in the TV biz myself, so I recognize that in an effort to "dramatize" things, a bunch of suits thought this would be good TV. Well, it seems the critics, who are probably too young to have any reference, bought it hook, line and sinker as well. Well done suits, but too bad its just another unrealistic drama...

And then there's this guy:
I worked on Madison Ave fot 2 agencies between 1953 and 1967. At one, i was part of the account team on Lorilard,(kent and newport cigarettes). Later, at Gillette was involv ed with Right Guard.
Where did mr. Weiner get his data, lots of it is not true. The staff was mostly WW2 vets, some with MBA,s from our GI bill-we worked hard, did not drink in the office and the secretary liasons were infrequent-about the same as in every company where bright, younger people work.we believed in our products and helped build the success that
these companies became. P.S-no one ever considered Right Guard as a female product-it was the breakthru product for men.
If your wryers want some unusual stories about agency life in the sixties,
I 'll be happy to share.

To which I respond: COME ON ... IT'S A TV SHOW! We are still in the exposition stage -- meeting the characters and establishing conflicts and plot points. Does anyone want to give this show time to develop other than me? And, by the way, this isn't supposed to be a documentary. It's not about how 1960 really was. It's about how we thought it was, and I expect the show to use this context to discuss issues of sex, race and other social attitudes.

I also expect the show to be less about 1960 and more about 2007. Although it's easy to sit around and watch the casual racism and sexual harassment and feel like things have really changed, I'm thinking that things haven't changed as much as we'd like to believe. Is it a set-up? Where is this show going? I'm curious and I hope enough of you out there give it a chance.

Stay Tuned!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mad Men in 2 minutes: