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Cat

AMC: Mad Men

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Wondered if there were any fans here of the AMC show "Mad Men." :)

http://www.amctv.com/originals/madmen/about/

Set in 1960s New York, the sexy, stylized and provocative AMC drama Mad Men follows the lives of the ruthlessly competitive men and women of Madison Avenue advertising, an ego-driven world where key players make an art of the sell.

The series revolves around the conflicted world of Don Draper (Hamm), the biggest ad man (and ladies man) in the business, and his colleagues at the Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency. As Don makes the plays in the boardroom and the bedroom, he struggles to stay a step ahead of the rapidly changing times and the young executives nipping at his heels. The series also depicts authentically the roles of men and women in this era while exploring the true human nature beneath the guise of 1960s traditional family values.

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SLAP! :lol:

Anybody else love the show?

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^^ Sexy little number, aren't they? :lol: I bet those socks have those little "sock suspender belts" that men used to wear.

I prefer Cooper's argyle socks, myself. Although all in all, I'd rather be wearing whatever Christina Hendricks is.

Edited by Cat

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I'm split about the show. I like the cinematography, the occasional costume, but sometimes I hate the pacing of stories, the "fifties leftover" feel, and the dramatic situations aren't all that... So, I don't know... :mellow:

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I have a thread here from last July when it aired where I tried about 5 or 6 times to see if anyone but me was watching and no one replied. So let it be known, when Mad Men becomes a huge breakout hit this season, I was there from episode one ;):P

It's probably currently my fave show on TV. I just think everythign about it is brilliant--sure the period details suck you in but the writing and acting is subtle, engrossing and wow. I know some people have called it boring--I think they just haven't sat down to actually see what's going on.

Sylph I'm disappointed in you--the pacing is kinda odd, it reminds me of another show you didn't like much Six Feet Under in that things will come up and then seem to be forgotten--but liek a good soap writer they always then come back JUST at the right time dramatically. The way Hamm's character's secret life was revealed, the suicide of his brother--insanely good stuff. Same with Peggy's pregnancy. What really got me though was the wife's storylines--hwo she had never been allowed to fully grow up, so many great moments with her--her creaky analysist who reports on her sessions to her husband, her masturbating on the washer (!), her relating to that kid who at first seems so creepy.

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Oh, Eric! I'm so pleased. You had a thread last year? I was watching it back then, too -- since episode one, natch -- and I just assumed that nobody else was. I didn't even think to look in this section.

This is hands down my favourite show ever. I've loved many, including going through a Buffy/Angel phase in my early 20s (another soap mascarading as a Primetime show). But Mad Men, for me, seems to reunite so many elements that I love. As a fan of the Doris Day/Rock Hudson comedies like Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back, here was a series that should the flip side of that sunny, glamourous world. The unsaid. The confusion. The secrets.

And I never got into Six Feet Under, but as far as Mad Men's pacing, I never felt it was too slow. Maybe because I love soaps from "back in the day" which took their time to build to a crescendo (LoL, Search, AW). I knew Mad Men only had 13 episodes and so would reveal its secrets eventually.

And, Eric, as you say, it is the characters that keep you hooked. Mad Men blindsided me with the way Hamm's character, Don Draper -- always so suave, masculine and Bond-like -- would come across as so vulnerable as his secret came out. Vulnerable and cowardly and weak. I think that was the most stunning revelation in the season finale last year, when Rachel Menken saw him for exactly what he was, and it wasn't pretty. And yet you still had sympathy for him!

January Jones as his wife was a revelation, too. At first, I thought the way she acted was too stilted. As the series wore on, I realized she is actually brilliant. Betty is stilted because she is so uncomfortable in her own skin. Every move, whether it is smoking a cigarette or putting dinner together, is an act. She is still wearing 1950s Eisenhower-ear clothes (her golden era of freedom and glamour) while the world around her is changing, moving away from her. And that friendship with that little boy -- wow. It was walking a line between innocence and something else. The fact that she was so fragile and lost meant that she was always surprising the viewer with her unpredictability.

So many others -- including Sal's aborted attempt at starting a relationship with another man (probably the most subtle yet upfront scene I have seen) -- that show was full of goodness. Including Peggy's baby reveal at the end! My faourite character was Joan, of course, with her red hair and condescending-bitch attitude. Which reminds me -- I need to find a good avatar of her :lol:

Anyhoo, I'll stop yapping now. :P

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Cat I'm starting to think we share a lot of similar tastes. I really have nothing to add to your post except I agree 100% (well except I'm shocked you never liked SFUnder but :P ) Hopefully with Season 2 (which I'm certaion will make it a breakout hit--it's already getting so much good press for its DVD release) we'll have a great discussion of it on here--even if it's just between you and me ;)

Are you watching Swingtown? It's not even 50% of the same quality but is growing on me a lot and has some similarities (besides being a period piece)

Edited by EricMontreal22

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I started watching the re-runs of Mad Men during the strike and got hooked..The show really improved as the season progressed...and the finale shocked me with Peggy's pregnancy...I'm really looking forward to the premiere of season 2 on Sunday..

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I think I replied to your previous thread last year. I was a little late during the first season so I downloaded the previous episodes, then ended up getting hooked. And like you, Six Feet Under is my all-time fave show. I really love this show. I think this is my third fave drama of all-time after Six Feet Under & Lost.

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Mr Sweet--you have good taste :)

The first ep of season 2 threw me a bit--it's back to the slow pace that early Mad Men season 1 was... but I like that. I can wait to find out the answers to some of our mysteries....

On another forum (a Stephen SOndheim musical forum) I said the following:

It definetly didn't start off with a bang... I thought I was being cynical but I essentially agree with your post.

I kinda like that we have some dangling plot bits and we'll find out about them (I assume) slowly but surely, yet on the other hand, maybe they coulda fed their audiences a few more bones. I definetly enjoyed watching it, I just expected it to be a bit more... something.

Some interesting things--Betty seems to have taken on an increased self confidence although she seems even less connected to her children and life as a housewife now (her line about why her daughter can't ride "Don't you remember Gone with the Wind" seemed so throwaway cruel). I sorta missed the whole "Betty is horbackriding" opening section except there's some young guy there who seems to liek to flirt and she has a mean lesbian teacher. Salvatore is married now? I loved enarly every scene with Peggy--I like that her and Don seem to have a mutual respect for each other too--and the final insult where the Xerox machine was shared with her office was great. I liked the little scene in the elevator as well. So who did Don mail the book off to? Rachel Menken? more likely given the subject matter, Midge--even though they seemed to end on more final terms. Or someone else?

I did see in one of those AMC promos they said the wife is no longer seeing the shrink. I think they implied finding out what DOn was doing with that sorta helped her grow up fast. The time shift is kinda weird--they didn't even aknowledge it with a "2 years later" or anything--I guess that wouldn't be subtle enough, but I bet it left a lot of viewers confused.

"This is a show that's always taken a lot of time to get moving and I suspect it will be several weeks before it rebuilds the momentum it finally built at the end of last season."

Agreed. And I don't really mind.

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Why aren't we madder about Mad Men?


Christopher Goodwin 

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/tv_and_radio/article4431337.ece




American television critics were breathless with anticipation last week as the second season of the drama series Mad Men began — and immensely relieved that the season premiere lived up to their incredibly high expectations. “Every bit as inspired as you have heard,” says Ray Richmond, of The Hollywood Reporter. “And getting better all the time.”

Mad Men, set in the luxuriant, retro dream world of a Madison Avenue ad agency on the cusp of the 1960s, was an instant critical hit when it began last year. It snagged 16 Emmy nominations, unheard of for a series in its first season, and won two Golden Globes: for best drama series, and for best actor, Jon Hamm. Hamm was the show’s breakout star, playing the archetypically tall, dark and handsome, but still mysterious and conflicted, advertising executive Don Draper.

Critics adored Mad Men’s guiltless immersion in an age before political correctness. Men — and women — wreathe themselves in cigarette smoke, in a time before people knew cigarettes led to wreaths. Three- martini lunches are de rigueur. Blatant sexism and casual racism are so ingrained as to seem almost quaint and innocent. Feminism is a notion barely formed in Betty Friedan’s mind. And America, still busting with pride from its triumph in the second world war, bestrides the world on the strength of its booming economy and with the righteous power of its ideas: freedom and 30 brands of washing powder. Those are forged into trenchant catch phrases at agencies such as Sterling Cooper, depicted in Mad Men.

What gives Mad Men an almost unbearable tension, a Chekhovian edge, is our knowledge that for America, and for the men so busily selling the idea of it in the series, the sense of existential certainty lasted for so brief a moment. We know it’s about to be shattered — by the tragedy of the Vietnam war, which is barrelling round a blind corner like an unstoppable tank; by the late-1960s counterculture, which will reject the values that led America into Vietnam; and by the attendant sexual revolutions, which will radically change the way men and women relate to each other. The second season picks up the story two years on. It’s Valentine’s Day, 1962. Across New York, people are watching their black-and-white televisions as Jacqueline Kennedy gives a graceful tour of the White House, a residence we know she will live in for only a short time longer, before tragedy shatters her life, too. Using Jackie Kennedy as such a motif signals that, as the first season focused on the dilemmas and desires of the men at Sterling Cooper, the second will spend more time on the emerging psyches of the women — the wives, secretaries and lovers.

It’s now clear that Betty Draper, Don’s beautiful blonde wife, played by the lovely January Jones, is being groomed as a troubled Hitchcockian heroine in the Kim Novak or Tippi Hedren mould. In the new-season premiere, she begins tentatively to test just how powerful and potentially dangerous an instrument her seductive beauty and still unexplored sexuality might be.

“Betty Draper is getting angry,” explains Matthew Weiner, the show’s creator. “She is an incredibly beautiful woman who married a man she barely knows because he looks good on paper. She has realised that, when her beauty disappears, she will cease to exist. She’s not enough for her husband and she doesn’t want to accept it. She’s terrified of dealing with that problem, because she cannot get divorced, she cannot be single, she cannot start over.” Like so many women at that time. There are also strong hints that Peggy, the secretary whom Draper has promoted to copywriter — who was shocked to find she was pregnant at the end of the first season — will also feature more insistently, though, tantalisingly, we learn nothing, at first, about the fate of her child.

As thrilling as it was to sit down last week to watch the beginning of the second season of a show that promises true greatness, there is a big problem with Mad Men: what The Hollywood Reporter’s Richmond calls the show’s “tragically low” ratings. If only someone would watch the thing,” he says. By the end of the first season of 13 episodes, Mad Men was averaging just 910,000 viewers on the cable channel AMC. Less than 1m viewers is hardly a blip on the radar when you consider that top-rated shows such as American Idol can hit 30m viewers a week, while House, starring Hugh Laurie, the top-rated drama series on American television these days, regularly pulls in 20m-plus. The first season of The Sopranos on HBO attracted an average of 4.3m viewers; its 2002 season premiere pulled 13.4m.

Some critics believe Mad Men’s dismal audience figures are symptomatic of a terminal decline in the taste of the American audience, which seems addicted to ridiculous reality series such as It’s Complicated, starring Denise Richards, former Bond girl and ex-wife of Charlie Sheen, and the new reality show featuring the horrifying stage mom Dina Lohan, mother of the actress Lindsay. More to the point, critics wondered how long AMC, a small cable channel, whose first scripted series this is, could sustain Mad Men if so few people tuned in.

AMC, gratified by the plaudits and prizes for the show’s first season, decided to double down and spend heavily promoting the new episodes — as much as $25m, according to some estimates. It seems to have paid off. Last Sunday’s opener doubled the show’s audience, pulling 1.9m viewers. While AMC and Mad Men aficionados were buoyed by the ratings, some observers doubt the show will ever be more than a critical hit. Brian Lowry, of Variety, believes that its “tranquil pace” means it “will likely struggle to significantly expand its commercial appeal, despite critical accolades”.

Unfortunately, Lowry may be right. Mad Men can be glacial. That is in startling contrast to the frantic shrillness, addiction to meaningless action and violence and insistent descent into sentimentality that are the hallmarks of just about everything else on American television these days. “There is little in the way of ‘action’,” says Robert Lloyd, television critic for the LA Times. “It is possibly the slowest, most deliberative show on television, which is one of the things that makes it so lovely and mysterious.” The most exciting thing to happen in the premiere was the arrival of Sterling Cooper’s first Xerox machine, a huge beast that nobody could figure out where to put.

Despite the acclaim for Mad Men, some interesting dissenting voices, particularly on the right, are beginning to be heard. Adam Simon, a film and television writer and cultural critic, agrees that Mad Men is beautifully executed, but says: “It is just too condescending. I really can’t bear the it is so certain that it, and by extension its viewers, are so morally and culturally superior to the characters we’re watching — in fact, to the whole era it depicts. “You get to revel in the cool atmosphere while feeling smugly superior to it. Oh, so sexist, so racist, so anti-semitic. So desperately in need of the sexual and cultural revolution waiting round the corner. It feels cheap in that sense, allowing us to pat ourselves on our backs for merely living on the other side of the great awakening.”

Perhaps that’s what Man Men needs to attract more viewers — healthy controversy, not just acclaim.

Mad Men 2 begins in the UK in the new year

Edited by Sylph

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Interesting article. I'm prob biased but I don't agree with Adam Simon's affirmation that

"It is just too condescending. I really can’t bear the it is so certain that it, and by extension its viewers, are so morally and culturally superior to the characters we’re watching — in fact, to the whole era it depicts. You get to revel in the cool atmosphere while feeling smugly superior to it. Oh, so sexist, so racist, so anti-semitic. So desperately in need of the sexual and cultural revolution waiting round the corner. It feels cheap in that sense, allowing us to pat ourselves on our backs for merely living on the other side of the great awakening.”

First of all, I find it interesting that they talk about a "right-wing critic" of the show. Of course, when reading the quote, I can see why. 1968 and all that was a real dividing line for that generation.

However, I don't ever feel like Mad Men looks down smugly on its characters. Far from it. The show loves and sympathizes with those very characters and I have rarely, if ever, found the tone to be smug. Otherwise, I would turn it off! (If you want a smug show, check out Grey's Anatomy). I think by the time the show reaches 1968 (if it doesn't get cancelled first), the fall-out among the characters will be painful and devastating, hardly the liberation the era purported to be.

Heck, I remember talking with a woman, who was a freshman at Harvard in 1968. Who led sit-ins and protests and blockaded the academic buildings. Who called for Marxist "revolution"!

Two things she said to me: "I regret every day having squandered my education. And the pill meant that we no longer had an excuse not to sleep with a guy." I was shocked because she is actually very liberal. So, even for those who wanted to change the world, the late 60s is not uniformly perfect. In fact, it is very bittersweet and actually quite traumatic. Imagine what it must have been like for those who didn't immediately subscribe to the 68 ethos? People like money-making advertising execs?

(Sorry, but I love studying that late 60s-early 70s era).

The other thing is this idea that "it was all so quaint back then" and that is what Mad Men plays on. I disagree. What is astounding about the show is how relatable it has been to me. How alike the Mad Men workplace is with those I have worked in. Does anybody really think that most of the bosses out there are no longer just men? Think again. That long-standing executives aren't banging some of the PAs? :lol: That people don't go out regularly for liquid lunches and talk about their co-workers, particularly those of the opposite sex, in sexually charged terms? Pat them on the butt? Treat some of the african americans like glorified waiters? Please!

The point is -- all that disconnect and racism and sexism is absolutely rife today. And it is even more insidious nowadays because we pretend that we vanquished all that back in the 60s!

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Well said Cat--I don't find it condescending at all, and at least I for one dont' watch it with a smug attitude of "ha we know better now". If anything it poitns out how little we HAVE changed even if superifically it seems we have.

I do think this could be a reason for its slow raise in ratings though "Unfortunately, Lowry may be right. Mad Men can be glacial. That is in startling contrast to the frantic shrillness, addiction to meaningless action and violence and insistent descent into sentimentality that are the hallmarks of just about everything else on American television these days. “There is little in the way of ‘action’,” says Robert Lloyd, television critic for the LA Times. “It is possibly the slowest, most deliberative show on television, which is one of the things that makes it so lovely and mysterious.” The most exciting thing to happen in the premiere was the arrival of Sterling Cooper’s first Xerox machine, a huge beast that nobody could figure out where to put. "

And that's a huge reason why I love it so much.

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