Jul 27, 2010

Mad Men (season 1) - the mad world of ad men

I bought the first season of Mad Men to see it as a test. The result of the test: I will have to see the second season, too.

Mad Men sets in a prestigious advertising agency in New York, in the early 1960s, in a glamourous era after the depression when people are desperately chasing the American dream. Mostly it concetrates on one of the most talented and desired man in the business, Donald Draper - his various affairs, mysterious past, problems at home and in the office. There's also a wide range of other interesting characers. Who, for me, are often more interesting than the main character. I guess I have a thing about favoring the supporting characters over the central one.

Don't get me wrong, Don Draper is a great character and Jon Hamm plays him very stylishly. In many ways his a difficult character - distant, serious, closed-up, not giving much away of himself, so mostly you just see this hard, polished, ice-cold shell, which is both intriqueing and intimidating. I grew fonder of him towards the end of the season, but can't still quite understand or approve some of his behaviour, arrogance and cynicism.

January Jones plays Don's wife Betty. January Jones has a very swell name! She also had a small role in the best romcom ever (Love Actually, if you didn't know), so thumbs up for that. Betty is a beautiful, young house wife, mother of two children and married to a handsome, successful man. Perfect, right? We know it isn't. Behind the flawless facade Betty is quite lost - a fragile, unhappy woman, who can't be totally honest to anyone, not even her terapist, nor herself. The cheating husband doesn't really help.

Peggy Olson (Elizabeth Moss) is Don's new secretary. Young, confused, unexperienced, she tries to learn the ways of the office, both the written and unwritten rules. However, she has ambition and some ideas. Peggy was probably my favourite character from the very beginning. Just like the viewer, she was a newbie in this harsh environment. I like how she tries so very hard, but doesn't always know how to act or what to say in certain situations, making herself easy to mock by the self-satisfied, in-a-group-stupidity-condenses men of the office.

Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) is probably the most annoying character - and yet one of my favourites. Pete's from a powerful family, wedging his value to the company. And he's a shameless climber, not dumb, but thinking a bit too much of himself and letting it show, lacking humility and sense of humour, when it comes to things below his belt. And not only figuratively. He's not very popular around the office because of his big mouth and unability show respect to certain authorities, and he often feels alone and left out. The storyline of him and Peggy was my favourite along the season.

Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks) is  the head of all the secretaries, teaching them the ways of the office, offering a shoulder to cry on and if necessary, bringing them down to earth when they aren't acting in an appropriate way. She's a very confident woman, with tons of attitude and curves to die for (just saying). She's also a favourite of mine.

Rest of the ad men don't get that much attention, but I'm looking forward to learning more about them. Expect for that grey-haired big boss Sterling. Pathetic old man. Sorry.

Mad Men's writing is what makes it so good. It's clever yet subtle. I love the time period and the clothes, oh, the clothes. From time to time the little feminist in me pouts her mouth at the mentality of the era - the place and meaning of a woman, the sexism and the dismissive honey/sweet heart/dear way they are talked to in the world still ruled by men (been there, experienced that, still in the 21th century...). And the cheating, oh god it's shameless and ugly. And then they practically slap their wives when they smile at the man next door. It annoys me, but at the same time that's what makes the show what it is: an accurate potrayal of that time. And it's always super cool when a woman dares to stand up for herself and doesn't settle on being alive just to please the man next to her. High five, y'all!

Silencing the little feminist in me in three two one now.

So. One season down. Second season is a must-see, we'll see when I'll get my hands on it. Mad Men is not the new Lost, but it was a good find anyway. The mission impossible continues soon, as I see if I can become addicted on True Blood on a second try.


Mikaela said...

Don Draper is the bee's knees ;O)

Harri said...

Oh, you watched this already! I haven't had time to write a review about this. But great series, I can't wait starting second season.

For me Don Draper is the main reason to watch the series. Very complex, real and fascinating. Though I love every character of Mad Men. Especially Betty, Pete and Roger Sterling (yeah, I think he is just great).

Eeva said...

I think there must me something wrong with me, not liking the character I'm clearly supposed to like. ;) Don is a great character, and maybe at some point I get over the issues I have with him and actually start liking him. :D (Not going to happen with Sterling, though... He's distusting! And again, still a very good character.)

I'm also looking forward to getting my hands on the second season!