MAD MEN: WHY WE LOVED IT SO MUCH
Just hearing the opening theme on Sunday night gave me, and
millions of other viewers of Mad Men a
tremendous feeling of satisfaction. For
7 seasons (it premiered on AMC in July 2007 and had its final episode in May
2015) we followed the trials and tribulations of Peggy, Roger, Pete, Joan,
Betty, and of course, Don Draper, played by Jon Hamm.
The music evoked an era as did the visuals. Matthew Weiner,
the creator, admits to having been greatly influenced by Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, in terms of production
Don, the fictional creative director of Sterling Cooper (the
original agency before it was transformed by partnerships, take-overs, etc.)
was the quintessential, uber advertising executive of the 1960’s – at least on
paper. An extraordinarily handsome womanizer,
he was a genius in wooing both clients and a multitude of woman with charm and
something intangible, possibly mystique. And Don was mysterious. In fact, the basis of his character was the
idea that for years no one knew much about the man with a secretive past and
Don liked it that way.
Don was classy and true to himself (it is interesting to note
that while other male characters adapted to fashion trends throughout the run
of the series, Don never changed his style) and even when we hated what he was
doing, we found ourselves rooting for him.
Besides, his relationship with his daughter, Sally, always seemed to
redeem him in our eyes.
Because of the superb writing and excellent acting, none of
the characters were portrayed as cardboard figures. They were flawed. We loved them one week and hated them the
next, or vice versa. Peggy could be naÃƒÂ¯ve,
but stubborn. Joan could use her
sexiness to her advantage, but also lament being labeled as such. Pete could be callous but also
sensitive. Betty, Don’s first wife, was
cold at times, but the audience was usually made to see things from her
perspective. My personal favorite was Roger (John Slattery) whose delivery of
lines hit the mark, week after week.
Aside from the characters themselves, viewers enjoyed having
a mirror set up, reflecting the era of the sixties. For those of us who lived through the Kennedy
assassination, the bee hive hairdos, the turmoil of the Civil Rights and Women’s’
movements, it was a chance to remember all of these in context. For those too young to recall any of it, it
was a fascinating history lesson. This
was particularly so when examining a period when people smoked like chimneys,
drank like fish, and said things that were outrageously “un-P.C.”
Mad Men was a unique series and its
storylines took us on unexpected, thrilling journeys. I will miss it.
Thank you Matthew Weiner for a wonderful ride.