Mad Men: Glorious Sleaze From The Sixties

Mad Men: Glorious Sleaze From The Sixties

The last TV series that had me hooked was The Wire, which is widely regarded as one of the most badass pieces of entertainment ever committed to tape. It’s three years since I finished watching that show, and it’s taken until now for another to come along that would impress me in the same way.

Joan HollowayThat show is Mad Men; a sickly stylish throwback to the sleaze of Madison Avenue in the 1960s.

Mad Men centers around an advertising agency, Sterling & Cooper, in an era where smoking, drinking and public displays of chauvinism come as par for the course.

Don Draper is the man at the center of it all. He’s a creative genius, father of two and betrayer of many. Draper is the sort of fucked up anti-hero that our generation of young affiliates aspire to become. He bedazzles clients with the perfect blend of smooth talk and marketing intellect.

When we announce that we’re affiliate marketers to the world, he is the projected image in all of our heads. The figure of quiet authority who could sell a man his own moustache. Draper is painted in various shades of grey; a multi-layered character for the show to orbit around. He’s backed by an awesome and versatile supporting cast, including some of the sexiest women on television. I can’t deny it, there’s just something about the sixties.

Mad Men is a tour de force in persuasion tactics from an era gone-by, but it’s also much more. It’s an excellent cultural reference to the sixties – where sexism, racism and prejudice cast a decidedly negative light on the decade we now glorify for its hard partying and pop legacy.

The show starts with Draper in a headspin, trying to find a way to re-brand cigarettes. Recent revelations have linked smoking to cancer, and the FTC has its boot on the throat of any tobacco seller who begs to differ. I’m sure many affiliates will be sympathetic of the predicament, as will anybody who has ever had to deal with a stuck-in-the-old-ways client.

Here’s a great taster of the show. It should strike a chord with many in our industry:

Every scene is beautifully shot and the storylines are brought to the boil slowly in a manner that rewards attentive viewing. The story is often told through subtle nods rather than blowout cliffhangers. It’s certainly no Prison Break in that sense.

I loved The Wire for its glorification of the ordinary and the richness of the characters. No good was without fault, and no bad was totally irredeemable. The characters in Mad Men are portrayed in the same light; the detail hidden in brief flashes of dialogue that most shows simply wouldn’t trust the viewer to digest.

Admittedly, the show has a polarizing effect. I’ve spoken to people who couldn’t get in to it, despite working in advertising for much of their careers. I would call it a slow burner, but I think the writing is comfortably strong enough to justify the leisurely pacing. You’ll either love it… or you won’t.

Here’s a final shove. Watch the trailer, get your 60s on, and grab a slice of Mad Men. I highly recommend it!

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