It’s hit British TV already so I’m a little bit late but I’m delighted and enthralled by this “Desperate Housewives” about the Madison Avenue ad business in the early 60s. I think that the hiatus and hysteria that I participated in thirty years later in London was the fantasy fulfilment of those earlier years.
Mad Men is the story of Donald Draper, a handsome creative director (in the days when they wore suits!) who has everything: a beautiful, adoring wife; a beautiful, adoring secretary; a beautiful mistress who kicks him out even before he gets his breath back and a host of adoring colleagues and staff. He seems to have just one skelton in the cupboard: a long, lost half brother who he doesn’t want to know any more. The story is still unfolding but, thank heavens for the internet, I have the whole of seasons one and two waiting to be watched.
You have to be an ad man to get all the in jokes. If you don’t understand the significance of the DDB VW ads then you’ll miss out on much of the point of episode three. The indolence and last minute, off the top of the head ideas are the truth about the ad business as are the enormous quantities of alcohol and the pampering and pimping for clients. The almost constant cigarette smoking by every member of the cast is the truth about the 60s too.
So who put these ideas down on paper and sold them to the production company? It’s Matthew Weiner, writer of The Sopranos and, as far as I can tell, no background as an ad man so all credit to his talent as a researcher. It’s a great show and demonstrates the sort of quality TV that we just don’t do in the UK.