Smoking. Drinking. Cheating. Selling. Brilliant
Its tough to pin down Mad Mens appeal. It could be the mesmeric setting Kennedy-era America, bright, gleaming and confident, but on the cusp of the dream turning sour, with Vietnam and that Dallas knoll looming near. It could be the amusing sight of the titular Mad men (slick ad-agency hustlers based on NYCs Madison Avenue) chugging bourbon and chainsmoking cigarettes without a health warning in sight. Or it could just be the fact that the two leads Jon Hamm and January Jones look really, really good in 60s clobber.
It had critical acclaim from the off, but this second season saw Mad Men arrive, as US ratings soared, the title sequence got spoofed by The Simpsons and its creators were rewarded with a heap of trophies. Rightly so. Creator Matthew Weiner is a veteran of The Sopranos and it shows while chiselled hero Don Draper (Hamm) doesnt share Tonys weakness for late-
night fridge forays, beneath the veneer he grapples with demons just as complex as the Mafia kingpins. Here we finally delve into his backstory, revealing that his idyllic life is a front; in reality hes Richard Whitman, a whores son whos taken on
a dead mans identity. Meanwhile, his beautiful, brittle wife Betty (Jones) wanders further down a lonely path, going quietly loco in her perfect home, befriending an oddball child (it doesnt end well), learning to exploit her power over men. And the other employees of Sterling Cooper from smarmy Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) to busty Joan (Christina Hendricks) continue their own detailed arcs.
The whole things as seductive as one of Dons pitches. And as Season 3 and the Cuban Missile Crisis approach, itll be fascinating to see where Weiner next takes his band of smoking salesmen.