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Published on July 17th, 2009 | by Radge


Mad For It – Mad Men, series 2

It’s not all bad being unemployed. There’s plenty of reclining to be done, the final pennies to be spent in the pub, more sitting, more drinking, some abandoned stabs at a new CV and, well, did I mention the sitting?

And there’s ‘Mad Men.’

HMV drew me in last week for the purposes of browsing, I came out with ‘Burn After Reading’ (read: ‘Burn Before Watching’) and the second series of the aforementioned show.

If you haven’t seen it, it centres around the Sterling Cooper advertising agency on Madison Avenue in the 1960s. Central to all this is Don Draper, the agency’s creative director and a man so suave, so sophisticated he could make George Clooney look like Miley Byrne on a bad hair day.

Much has been made about the aesthetics of the show. People smoke with impunity, sip scotch on the job, wear high fashions, sleep around, make lots of lovely sexist comments to their wives and secretaries, conform, abuse and sell sell sell. It looks beautiful, a glorious paean to the early 1960s, but at its heart is a drama as dark as any of the modern greats.

Watching the second season, the similarities between ‘Mad Men’ and ‘The Sopranos’ become much more evident. The expositions of the first series have been put to bed, the characters fleshed out, their flaws revealed, their scars showing. This is most evident in Draper, as charismatic an anti-hero as Tony Soprano, a man to whom people are drawn and, inevitably, cut. For Soprano’s band of merry hoods you have Draper’s underlings at Sterling Cooper. Their deference to him is never in question, they do everything bar genuflect every time he enters the room.

Mad Men - New York Times cover

Draper is a deeply flawed and unhappy man, this misery turning his home life to mush as his wife Betty struggles to know the man that she married. Work isn’t much better, with head of accounts Duck Phillips taking a more central stage as the season goes on, leaving Don foundering in Los Angeles as he seeks to rebuild and restore some meaning to his cavalier life.

Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) and wife Trudy maintain a deeply punchable air about them (if I had a cent for every time she hissed “but I want a CHILD, Peter!”… ) while Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) loses any sympathy you might have for her plight by her aloofness alone, but these are minor gripes.

This is a ravishing, brilliant and compelling piece of television and it has something for everyone. I’m just sorry I’ve finished it.

I’ll have to get a job now.

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2 Responses to Mad For It – Mad Men, series 2

  1. Lottie says:

    Don Draper. I so would!

    *swings dreamily in chair**

  2. Radge says:

    Yes, I admit I want to be him when I grow up.

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