By the time I started watching (and living, breathing and loving) Mad Men the 2nd series was being broadcast on BBC4.
I had heard a lot of good things about it and was keen to try it for myself but honestly, I was a little nervous it would be too brainy for me. I have difficultly recognising characters and remembering their names and thought that the whole thing would intimidate me, like getting my hair done. For the first time in my life (ever) I was wrong.
My husband and I watched the first season on DVD and were able to motor through it. I loved it immediately wanting to drink in as many episodes as I could in one sitting.
Mad Men is set in an advertising agency in New York’s Madison Avenue. Series 1 is set in the late 1950s when everyone smoked and sexism hadn’t been invented.
If you haven’t seen any of it I won’t spoil the plot for you but here are a few of my favourite/jaw dropping moments from the first series of the show:
Don, Betty and their kids enjoy a picnic in the beautiful New York state countryside.
As they pack up the car to drive home they shake all the rubbish off their picnic blanket (wrappers, empty tins, leftover food) leave them there and drive off.
Betty’s friend smoking and drinking alcohol whilst she is pregnant.
One lazy Sunday Don and Betty spend the day at home with their children, who are keen to please them and make Bloody Marys for their parents. All day long. When it gets dark drunk Betty decides to put the kids to bed and it is only when her young daughter says she is hungry that Don and Betty realise they haven’t given their children any food.
The writers of Mad Men manipulate the viewers.
You love Don, you hate Don.
You hate Joan, you adore Joan and want to protect her.
You hate Pete Campbell and then you hate Pete Campbell more.
Not since The Sopranos have I felt so emotionally involved in the characters of a TV show. And the storyline is generally unpredictable and frequently shocking.
Mad Men is intelligent and slick but it isn’t pretentious. I can tell which character is which – a big deal for me. (I am not coping well with Game of Thrones.) It’s deep and clever and scenes can be dissected and read and broken down to form a layered study of the characters and the era. Or you can just watch the shit out of it and gasp in delight at Joan’s heaving chest or Roger’s unending wit.
The Sopranos is still my ultimate TV show but Mad Men is snapping at it’s heels. Until Tony whacks Don.