Hooked on Mad Men

My wife and I are hooked on the award-winning AMC television drama created by Matthew Weiner called Mad Men. It premiered in the summer of 2007, produced by Lionsgate Television and has won a pile of Golden Globe and Emmy awards. Three seasons are in the can (and on our shelf) with the fourth in production as I type.

Set in the early 1960's and the fictional Sterling Cooper ad agency on Madison Avenue in New York City, Mad Men captures the vibrations, nuances and flavours of a generation that welcomed me into the world all those years ago.

The workplace of that time was a cacophony of secretaries and voluminous electric typewriters, of ubiquitous clouds of smoke and overflowing ashtrays. Alcohol was omnipresent and often used to dull the pain of a hard day or to soften the battle of a challenging pitch. The tools of the trade for the ad men and account executives were the tongue, telephone and tonic. Presentations and letters were dictated, calls were filtered by their "girls" and business was largely conducted face-to-face. It was a time dominated by men, with women on the sidelines, eagerly looking for their opportunity to get in the game. Their chance to play was fast approaching, their anticipation dripping from the edges.

Don Draper, played by Joe Hamm, is the seemingly impenetrable creative director, reviled by some, revered by most. He listens, ponders, questions, then distills marketing challenges down to their core and spits out effusive and articulate language that lights up the room and sets the course of the campaign. His character is a mystery wrapped in an enigma--a marble hard shell of man hiding from a hideous past.

Don is married to Betty Draper, "Bets" as he calls her. Played by January Jones, who made a great appearance in Love Actually, one of our favourite films, Betty is the quintessential trophy wife, a blond beauty, a tightly wound powder keg, deeply unhappy in a most compelling way.

The characters, played by one of the strongest ensemble casts in television history, have etched themselves firmly into our minds and hearts. Watching an episode at the end of a long day is a great redress, a brilliant distraction, and often invokes discussion and reflection. In many ways Mad Men perfectly replaced The Sopranos as our series of choice, as one came to end in June of 2007, the other began, wonderfully passing the torch of excellence.

May 1, 2010 - 191.8 pounds, 28.6% body fat


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