Mad Men is back, and if you have little or no idea of what I am referring to here, your television viewing has been inadequate. It all started five years back – a show about ad men in the late 1950s and early 60s. Over the years, it has converted many, bringing them over to its side, and has undoubtedly jammed internet traffic as we have tried downloading episodes fresh off the Mad oven.The first Season 5 double bill will be up for you to find on the internet on Monday, but just in case you’ve missed the back narratives that make the show
as popular, here’s a little guide.
ALCOHOL —Characters on this show pour glasses of scotch in office the way you and I would visit the coffee machine.Wait patiently for them to get a bit tipsy.
BETRAYAL — Husbands betray their wives with the kind of ease that one reserves for taking the garbage out.
CIGARETTES —Everyone is lighting up, from the representatives of Lucky Strike to the ad agency’s executives. It’s as simple as breathing.
DON DRAPER — Played by Jon Hamm, Draper adds a gravity to his errant ways that is mysterious and endearing. Even a double life isn’t enough for his personas.
ENNUI — No word could better describe the expressions on Mr and Mrs Draper’s face, as one lies on her psychoanalyst’s couch and the other returns on a busy train.
FATHERS — Visions of Draper’s strict father comes to haunt him each time he hallucinates, but what kind of a parent will Don make after his divorce?
GENIUS — Pulling ideas out of the ether, often at the last minute with characteristic finesse — just one of the things that make the genius of Don Draper.
HUBRIS — The sheer swagger with which some of these advertising executives walk is evidence of an arrogance from which there’s little redemption.
IDEA — It all goes back to Season 1, when Don had suddenly said “It’s Toasted”,and given Lucky Strike a campaign. The joy of Mad Men lies in tracking that ‘idea’.
JOAN HARRIS— The roundedness of Christina Hendricks’ figure often gets talked about more than her character Joan’s clear
subversion of norms.
KENNEDY — And then Kennedy died.Few television shows have hinted at his rise and sudden demise quite as subtly as Mad Men.
LOVE — Mad Men’s rough definition of love is a lover giving his mistress a bird before they leave a hotel room. Or as the more honest Draper would have it,“What you call love was invented by guys like me to sell nylons.”
MARRIAGE—It might be normal for most to cheat, but men here are also surprisingly quick to pop the question at the drop of their 60s hats.
NOSTALGIA— With its precise environs, not only is Mad Men nostalgic, its characters are too. They miss the war, lovers and sometimes, they just miss the bus.
OFFICES—Ever felt too guilty about staring at a colleague or about not having an idea when you should, you have Mad Men’s offices to derive solace from.
PEGGY OLSON —After she made her way from the secretaries’ pool to things more creative, Peggy’s the only woman who can make Don go weak in his knees.
QUEER — There once used to be a somewhat effeminate character called Salvatore Romano. A pass by a male client is all it took to bring about his end.
ROGER STERLING —A partner of the firm, here’s Sterling for you — “My uncle lost his leg, hitching a trailer. He used to ask me to scratch his toes. He didn’t have any.”
SEX — Since everyone seems to be having it almost all the time, it is often the refusal of sex by either man or woman that makes the game interesting.
TELEVISION — If one tracks Mad Men from its first series, one sees how the television became ubiquitous and how the advertiser became omnipresent.
UNDERSTATED— There is a certain slowness and restraint in the way the show goes about its business. The dramatic is always only between the lines.
VICTORY — Many of the show’s high points are realised when the agency bags an account. The sucking up and pandering only makes victory seem sweeter.
WAR — Beneath the gloss of Don Draper’s worldly life, there are terrible secrets he carries from the war. Nothing here is how it seems on the surface.
EX—The one thing that Mad Men leaves a lot of room for are past lovers, ex-wives and former husbands. The chemistry and animosity are both compelling.
YOU — In the immortal words of Don Draper, “You are the product. You feeling something. That’s what sells. Not them. Not sex. They can’t do what we do.”
ZEITGEIST — It would be fair to say that nothing on television comes close to capturing that spirit of a time which strangely seems to have changed us all.