Home' Scoop : Scoop 50 Summer 2009 Contents 102 SCOOP SUMMER 2009
It is an unlikely recipe for a hit show. In
fact, until season three's opening earlier
this year in the USA, it could barely be
described as a "hit show". But Mad Men
should be essential viewing.
For men, because it's a guilty reminder of what
a Cro-Magnon universe our grandparents lived
in. For women, because it's a reminder of how far
Don't know what I'm talking about? Don't
worry, few do.
So let's start with the basics. Mad Men is ex-The
Sopranos writer Matthew Weiner's creation follow-
ing the lives of advertising executives in 1960 New
York. The title is derived from "Madison Avenue",
where the agencies actually set up shop.
Creative director Donald Draper (Jon Hamm)
leads the team of copywriters, execs and women in
various roles (mainly secretarial) at Sterling Cooper
through campaigns for Lucky Strike, Heineken
and more. At the close of the second season the
firm is to be sold to British agency Young and
Rubicam amid much interpersonal relating (illicit
sex) and intra-firm Machiavellian manoeuvring
Think Bewitched's McMahon & Tate on
steroids. The show has won Emmys and Golden
Globes in both 2008 and 2009 including Best
Drama and Best Actor for Hamm, while usually
fork-tongued critics in highbrow publications have
sung in unison hymns of glowing praise. Saturday
Night Live and The Simpsons have both riffed on it.
What's been the ratings problem?
One reason may be its pace; it's not a fly-on-
the-wall comedy with Ricky Gervais failing or
David Spade smirking.
Instead we get Jon Hamm and John Slattery as
gorging-at-the-trough ad execs discussing Kodak
campaigns and firm dynamics over martini-oyster
lunches. Hamm and beautiful January Jones play
emotionally stunted people enduring a marriage
desperate for therapy at a time we know is ripe for
It's a slow-burning drama shy on fisticuffs and
heavy on smoking, cinematic production values,
Mad about the boys...
Daniel Murphy loves the television show Mad Men. He should be ashamed of himself.
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