As a rock on the seashore he standeth firm, and the dashing of the waves disturbeth him not. He raiseth his head like a tower on a hill, and the arrows of fortune drop at his feet. In the instant of danger, the courage of his heart sustaineth him; and the steadiness of his mind beareth him out.
- Akhenaton?, Egyptian King and Monotheist (c. B.C. 1375)
With the season 5 premier airing in just a couple hours, I wanted to share with you my…
Top Ten Reasons Why Mad Men Is the Best Thing on TV
10. Set Decor. Or is that set direction or . . . I don’t even know what it’s called because I rarely ever even notice it on a show but the sets on this show, that 60’s style, from the high class homes and apartments to the beatnik slums, from the posh clubs to a great scene in a classic diner, so often while I’m paying attention to what’s going on, I’m also thinking about how cool the style was from that era.
9. Bertram Cooper. The bow-tied founding partner may be the only television character I’ve ever seen who actively encourages his fellow partners and employees to read a book or two from Ayn Rand. For that alone he makes this list.
7. Watching my dad’s generation operate – it’s the closest I’ll ever get to having been there to see it in person.
6. The drinking. Classic scene – Roger Sterling: I bet daily friendship with that bottle attracts more people to advertising than any salary you can dream of. Don Draper: It’s the way I got in. RS: So enjoy it. DD: I’m doin’ my best here. RS: No, you’re not. You don’t know how to drink. Your whole generation, you drink for the wrong reasons. My generation, we drink because it’s good, because it feels better than unbuttoning your collar, because we deserve it. We drink because it’s what men do. // And it’s a lot of fun watching both generations operate with a glass of whiskey in their hand as part of the office routine.
5. Peggy Olsen. You really have to cringe watching some of the things Peggy and the other women had to endure in the workplace back in those times, but here was a woman who blazed a trail, moving up to a position that had been “men only” territory. Where women of today would have the recourse of a lawsuit, Peggy only knows she can never let them think they’ve broken her. She’s admirable for all her courage and strength, she’s a smart and sexy woman (in a girl next door kind of way.)
4. Joan. Forget about how hot Christina Hendricks is, okay wait, why would you want to forget about how hot Christina Hendricks is? Okay, so leave those aside, I mean, leave that aside and just look at what this woman does for the entire firm. She gives advice and it is brutal, but it is exactly what that person needed to hear at that exact moment, every time. She’s cool under pressure, she always thinks in terms of what’s best for the company as a whole, she is hands down, the MVP of the team and it is just amazing watching her operate.
3. Roger Sterling. Most people have some sort of editing mechanism that serves as a gateway between thinking a thought and voicing it – Roger Sterling has none of that. But whereas a lot of people would not be all that funny if they shared everything they were thinking, Sterling is more often than not downright hilarious when he lets it fly.
2. Nostalgia. As with any era, there was a fair share of bad in the early 60s, but the writers manage to straddle a fine line with it, for example we often get a scene or a line that is grossly un-politically correct to our modern sensibilities, yet in the hands of the writers of this show, it’s usually funny enough that we find ourselves both laughing and cringing at the same time. I can also remember for three or four episodes leading up to November of 1963, wondering how they would deal with the Kennedy assassination, and when that episode came, the way the writers handled it was profound – I had always grasped how that day might have been as devastating for all Americans as I know 9/11 was, but watching the event through our favorite character’s eyes, this was the first time I ever really felt how the devastation could have been comparable.
There was so much that was good about the 60s too, though – the optimism that we as a nation had risen to become the best place in the best of all possible worlds, the suits, the shades, the dresses, the way the cars looked, it was a style that in many ways was more modern and space age than that of today, for the first time both TVs and airline flight were affordable for the average American and not just affordable, but new and glamorous… it was the 60s, my friends, we were on our way to the Moon and the people of Madison Avenue were there to sell us that American dream, one element of that dream at a time.
1. Don Draper. Do I need to elaborate? If I do, you need to check out the show.