I never watched Mad Men when it originally aired (2007 - 2015), but Netflix has been recommending it to me for over a year. I recently finished Girlboss and was poking around for a new binge when the show popped up again. I decided to finally give it a go.
Because I always watch the Emmys and the Golden Globes, I was aware of the premise of Mad Men and came to recognize the cast as red carpet regulars. For those who aren't familiar, the show is about life at an advertising agency in New York City. The story begins in the year 1960 and is centered around the agency's creative director, Don Draper, who is played by the ridiculously handsome Jon Hamm.
In the role of Don, Hamm is a charmer. He wows clients, seduces women and always gets what he wants. Despite the fact that he is constantly cheating on his wife with multiple women, you still root for him. Through flashbacks you learn that he had a very rough childhood and his service in the military dramatically altered his adult life.
Don's wife, Betty, is played by blond bombshell January Jones. I would watch the show for her costumes alone! The dresses, the jackets, the horse back riding outfits, the hair styles and the lipstick. She is a bored housewife who turns a blind eye to her husband's regular transgressions.
At the office there are a host of characters - agency leader Roger Sterling (played by Massachusetts native John Slattery), lead secretary Joan (the voluptuous Christina Hendricks) and irritating account executive Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser). My favorite of the bunch is Peggy Olson, brought to life by Elisabeth Moss. Peggy starts out as a secretary, but shows tremendous promise as a copy writer (after joining a focus group to discuss lipstick). She soon becomes the only female in the room during all the creative team meetings. I don't want to spoil the ending of season one for anyone who hasn't watched, but she has a pretty dramatic story arc that I can't wait to watch unfold in the next season.
My favorite part of watching Mad Men so far is the scenes where they pitch brands to work with their agency. In season one, there is an episode where Don leads a pitch for the new Polaroid slide projector. That scene was so powerful that when it aired in 2007, my boss played it for us at the office the next day as inspiration.
I was also very intrigued by the episodes where the agency decides to go after American Airlines, and as such has to fire their existing airline client (it would be a competitive conflict). When I worked in advertising, we pitched an automotive company, won the business and had to part ways with our existing car client, so that was very real for me.
There are a few things about the show that drive me nuts. First and foremost, the blatant sexism and harassment in the workplace is incredibly hard to watch. The show is set in 1960 (57 years ago) and I keep reminding myself of that, but my blood still boils in the scenes where the male executives cross the line (repeatedly). Also, for some reason it's been really hard for me to watch the characters smoke cigarettes all day long. It makes my chest feel tight!
I am now into season two (I'm six episodes in) and I plan to keep going. The idea of watching all seven seasons feels daunting, but I'm getting more and more hooked. As I've been watching it's been fun to see actors who had small roles and have since gone on to star in other shows - Abby from Scandal, Kepner from Grey's Anatomy, Nolan from Revenge, J.D. from Girlfriend's Guide to Divorce.
Tell me, did you watch Mad Men when it first aired? Have you caught up since?