Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What I believe 'Mad Men' is about, courtesy of my Twitter feed

I have never seen an episode of the acclaimed dramatic series Mad Men. This isn’t due to any specific bias against the show (although I suspect it’s one of those things I wouldn’t get into as much as I feel like I’m supposed to). It’s more that my satellite package does not include AMC and there are several series ahead of it on my DVD must-watch list. Nevertheless, I’ve picked up quite a few details about Mad Men over the years, thanks largely to federal regulations requiring every person who watches the show to talk about it incessantly on Twitter. Using only information gleaned via my social media wanderings, I’ve pieced together this invaluable viewing guide for other neophytes who may wish to join the show already in progress.

A cool, stylized, animated opening sequence ripe for lazy parodies introduces us to Don Draper, a ludicrously handsome ad executive working for an agency called Sterling Cooper in early 1960s New York. Eventually he becomes a partner and the agency’s name is changed to Sterling Cooper Draper Somebodyelse. Don’s rise is unimpeded by his tendency to digitally pleasure every comely woman who crosses his path, but he still hides significant self-loathing beneath his slick Madison Avenue exterior.

Don has a wife named Betty and a daughter named Sally, or possibly vice-versa. Betty Draper, who is occasionally fat, is one of the most loathsome people who has ever walked the Earth. Don’s bespectacled* co-worker Pete Campbell is also in competition for that title, although his despicability ranges on pitiable. Don’s other co-worker Peggy Olsen, on the other hand, is a delightful human being who radiates ass-kickery and sometimes smokes marijuana. Speaking of narcotics, Don’s silver-foxy boss Roger Sterling took LSD this one time and it was pretty awesome. Also awesome: the red-headed curvaceousness of whatever Christina Hendricks’ character’s name is. Not so awesome: voiceover narration.

Most if not all of the abovementioned people drink heavily, engage in infidelity and were profoundly affected by the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Oh, and Annie from Community is in there somewhere too.

*I have been informed that the one with glasses is actually Harry, not Pete. This may invalidate my entire thesis. Apologies.


  1. Thank you, Ira, for this exhilarating synopsis of a show I've never seen, but have heard is "good." For a while now I have had a middling curiosity, but felt hamstrung by my ignorance of previous seasons, and also by a pervasive feeling of both mild curiosity and indifference, which I now feel is leaning slightly away from indifference, thanks to you.

  2. Thanks, Marcia. Glad to be of service. I've been informed, though, that Pete does not actually wear glasses. This may invalidate the entire piece.

  3. Yes, unfortunately that was a deal breaker for me. I'm canceling basic cable on Monday.

  4. Adam Schragin5/14/12, 10:26 PM

    Nailed it. Also: race relations.