TV (Late) Review: Mad Men

>> Friday, January 16, 2009

I know it's kinda late for Mad Men, but out of curiousity for their Golden Globes, I torrented two seasons (26 episodes) and went to town. I didn't know what it was about, I thought it was The Sopranos in a 60s setting but found out it wasn't.

The story started with young Peggy Olson's, a naive girl from Brooklyn, first day at Sterling Cooper, an advertising agency on Madison Avenue, Manhattan. Peggy was assigned to Creative Director Mr. Don Draper, the genius behind the agency. It's an exciting time, the boys came back from WWII (not the video game, I swear the Japanese made up Wii to make people forget that war) and becoming men, JFK had been elected president, the sanctioning of Cuba and the Cold War is still in the background. Viewers are confronted first hand on how inequality persist in those days. After Peggy was introduced to his boss, she was shooed away to a doctor who introduced her to birth control pills while the doctor told her just because she now has a mean to avoid pregnancy doesn't mean she has to be the village pump. (Why? Thank you Doctor!) Sure enough the whole office tried to have a go with the young girl. (I was reminded about this post.)

But not Don Draper. He's a married man with a beautiful wife who could be mistaken as Grace Kelly, he also has a young daughter and a young son. ( I actually wondered is little Bobby Draper grew up and inspired this series) But then Don Draper is no saint, he sleeps around with different women, and as the series went on, Don is not really who he says he is. Everywhere you turn there's someone smoking or drinking hard liquor.

The show is sexy in a very unique way and I admired the effort for authenticity. The hairdo and makeups, the furnitures, cars, home decor, TVs all strives to represent US in the 60s. The colors are vibrant. There is an obvious racial disparity that makes me glad I'm not in the US back then (Although there was an Asian waitress that spoke perfect English), but being a minority means being Italian or Irish, members of other races were doing menial jobs. The Civil Rights movement was commencing but equality wasn't ther just yet. There was also a homosexual sub-story with the Art Director named Salvatore Romano who's played by Bryan Batt, I recognized him from gay flick Jeffrey (1995) and I'm ever so glad to see him employed in such a prominent series. He demonstrated how life for a closeted gay man was. There is also a very distinct feel about Class and the upkeep of it as it's deteriorating. Don is always coming in and out of parties and clubs that one might expect Roger Moore would come through as James Bond.

I totally love the red-headed, sassy, queen bee office manager Ms. Joan Holloway (played by Christina Hendricks). Vicious, calculating abuse her powers at times, but she thought she was just offering help. One such person would go far in modern world, she's absolutely gorgeous and knows it and uses it to her own advantage. Don Draper's wife Betty (played by January Jones, what a parculiar name that is) is also very beautiful, she struggles for perfection and even though she knows deep in her heart that her husband is sleeping around, she keeps up the appearance of the perfect marriage and perfect family until she has psychosomatic episodes. As the series commence you'll see her flirt with various strangers and act appalled when the strangers flirts back. And although I can't quite put my finger of Don Draper who's played by Jon Hamm, his smoldering gaze and his hairy chest does intrigue.

I wonder what will happen to this series though. Since they got quite a few awards, the whole cast and crew is negotiating with AMC for a higher fee I'm sure but who watches AMC? I thought they only plays American Movie Classics (aka old films that I don't watch) So how do they generate enough revenue to produce shows like this? There were news that this series stopped production until the negotiation is over. I would think one of the major networks might pull this up. It's better than most shows on TV. Hell, I'll say I like this more than Six Feet Under. The writing is not unbelievably witty but reflecting a period is intriguing. (i.e. Swingtown)

It actually reminds me of a Manga Series that I read, about working in a big Japanese Electronic company, called Salaryman Kosaku Shima. It's like 40 books of it from him being a clerk and slowly work his way up to be the president. The series started publishing in 1983 and the guy is still working his way up. But much like Mad Men, it shows the era and things that were happening and it also shows new concepts and teaches the inner working of the company. I've learned quite a bit from it. At the same time you can't help but want the protagonist to succeed.

One memorable scene in Mad Men is during a picnic, they were preparing to go home and after taking the basket and toys back in Don's new Cadillac Coupe de Ville, Don just stood up and waved his blanket around and let all the trash fall to the park lawn and left. Did people really just do that? Who did they think will clean up after them? I was shocked.

  © Blogger template Romantico by 2008

Back to TOP