Mad Men (TV Series 2007–2015) Poster

(2007–2015)

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9/10
Start from the beginning - you wouldn't watch a foreign film without subtitles, would you?
crewbie3 September 2009
The brilliance is all in the subtext. There are many hilarious moments that are only funny if you've been paying attention and understand where the character is coming from. There are also many tragic moments that would pass you by if you didn't know what came before. Many lines have double or even triple meanings. Watch this from the beginning, with a friend. Believe me, you will want to discuss each episode afterward to figure out some of the nuances of what happened.

The main Mad Man is the confident womanizer Don Draper, who is head of the Creative department at a mid-sized ad agency in 1960s Madison Avenue. I admit, at first I kind of hated him, but as the viewer learns more about him and his past, I learned to - not love him exactly - but like him and want to watch him endlessly. He is a complicated character who can be a very good man, but also a very bad man.

Don Draper is joined by a rich cast of supporting characters, many of whom deserve a show of their own: The ambitious young Campbell who is utterly sleazy most of the time, but has occasional moments of growth and even cuteness.Peggy Olson starts out as Draper's secretary, but her growth into a strong, confident woman mirrors what is happening for Woman in the 60's. Silver fox Stirling - he may be morally bankrupt but gets some of the best lines. I could go on . . .

The 60's clothes, hairstyles, decor, and current events provide an interesting backdrop for what is essentially a character piece. The setting provides both the occasional laugh (cigarettes being advertised as "healthy") and the more than occasional cringe (how could dumping trash from a picnic in the park right on the grass ever seem okay?!).

If you need fast-paced action or a laugh track, this definitely isn't the show for you. But, if you like character development and subtlety in your television shows, rent the first seasons on DVD and settle in. You won't regret it.
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9/10
Impeccable...
Nooshin Navidi11 September 2010
This is a perfect show in every sense. The opening credits & animated intro are themselves works of art, and the creative direction makes the series so visually exquisite that you can't take your eyes off the screen even for a moment lest you miss one of the many perfect vignettes. The haunting opening music sets the stage for masterful sound design, ranging from each episode's musical selections to the subtlest of ambient sounds. The camera-work is nothing short of stunning; it loves each character and makes even the background action interesting. Talented cast and every character is watchable & believable.

For a period piece, 'Mad Men' is remarkably fresh. The show is set in 1960, following a decade of post-WWII recovery which, with the help of rampant consumerism, transformed America from an industrial society into a "leisure society". One of the most rewarding things about the show is how we get to witness the many cracks which had already begun to form in the manicured facade of the '50s, slowly making way for America's rebellion against the manufactured "good life", and resulting in the social & political upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s.

We get to have intimate glimpses into the various components of this process--money, power, politics, sex, race, gender roles-- in a way that makes us feel as if we're actually there in the room with the characters. The show also does a magnificent job of portraying the simultaneous liberation and objectification of women as consumerism rapidly transformed their role in society.

Each and every well-developed character on this show takes his/her turn to unfold in delicate layers. This unfolding is done with pin-point precision and subtlety, and without ever spoon-feeding us. And every new nugget of information is a highly relevant piece of this very addictive puzzle.

~NN
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Ambitious with good cause
John_Truby8 January 2010
Mad Men is one of the best-written and most ambitious TV shows in some time. It is worth close study, not just for learning how to create a well-structured show but also how to write one that is truly original and potentially groundbreaking. Story world, or arena, is one of the key structural elements in any TV drama (see the TV Drama Class for how to create this element, as well as the other essential structural elements of a successful show). It is where the story takes place and it usually exists within some specific arena that not only delineates a recognizable unit but also has a set of rules, activities and values that defines the characters. One of the strengths of Mad Men is its story world. Instead of the usual arena of cops, lawyers, or doctors, Mad Men takes us into a Manhattan advertising agency in 1960. Besides being totally unique in TV, this story world is extremely detailed. And the detailing isn't simply a matter of the set design, which is fabulous. It is written into every episode. The writers weave all manner of cultural icons of the late 50s-early 60s, including TV shows, ads, and fashion. This has two great advantages. One is the pleasure of recognition. If you were a kid at that time, as I was, the show is a virtual time machine. And even if you weren't, the authenticity and texture immerse you in the world and make you feel that "You are there!" The other great advantage is that this past world tricks the audience into believing that this is how it really was back then. The first thing we notice when we see all of these details is how much the world has changed. Everybody smoked back then. The men were in charge and the women were all secretaries and housewives. That sets up the kicker. By first thinking how much we've changed, we then realize, with even more impact, all the ways we haven't. This story, set in 1960, is really about today, or more exactly, the ways that human nature only puts on a new skin and the same fundamental challenges of creating a meaningful life must be faced by each of us, every moment of every day. Another structural element that immediately jumps out at you if you want to create a TV show or write for one is the desire line. In Mad Men the desire that structures each episode is fairly nebulous, and that's probably going to cut into the show's popularity (I hope I'm wrong on this one). Desire is the main reason almost all TV shows are set in the cop, lawyer, and doctor arenas. These jobs give their shows a simple and repeatable desire line that tracks the episode every week. Catch the criminal. Win the case. Save the life. But of course this is extremely limiting. Most people don't spend their daily lives solving crimes, prosecuting bad guys, and saving lives. So while the desire line on this show may be more nebulous, it is far closer to what most Americans do in their daily lives. These Mad Men are in the business of selling, which, as Arthur Miller pointed out long ago, is the archetypal American action. But they aren't selling a particular product. They're selling desire, some image of the good life that, because it is a fabricated ideal, is always just out of reach. Writer Matthew Weiner's brilliant conception for this show is to connect the selling of desire to America to the personal and work lives of the ad men themselves. The ad men want the image of the good life in America that they are selling to be true, even if they intellectually make fun of the poor suckers out there who buy it. Main character Don Draper is handsome and talented, with a beautiful wife and two cute little kids. But he has some secrets he's keeping – like a mistress in the city – and he feels a terrible void he has no idea how to shake. Draper is a master at manipulating desire and creating facades, so when he tries to live the promise for real, the "good life" falls apart in his hands. We are in Far from Heaven and American Beauty territory here. And the second episode even had Draper give his own version of the Existentialist credo of Sartre and Camus that was seeping into pop culture during the late 50s (how's that for a sweet detail on a TV show?). We'll have to see whether Mad Men can extend beyond a few episodes without imploding. Besides the lack of a clean desire line, the subject of hollow suburban existence will make it extremely difficult for the writers to develop the show over the long term without beating a spiritually dead horse. In the meantime, I'm going to sit back and enjoy some great dramatic writing, and nowadays TV is the only place you'll find it.
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10/10
This show rocks
stephen-105024 July 2009
I also am utterly bemused to see so many negative comments on this show. I haven't taken to a TV drama so much since 'Our Friends in the North' (UK only I think) For those who seem to think the show is about pointing out the improved morals of the 21st century, or don't catch the story lines as being evolved enough, or think the characters shallow - I'm afraid you're missing the (beautifully painted) picture completely.

Mad Men oozes. It oozes class, style, sophistication, cinematic production, dreaminess and the wow factor. It seeps into your mind. It doesn't leave you alone, lingering around the corners of your mind for hours afterwards.

As a bonus (as if all this wasn't enough) you've got Don Draper (Jon Hamm). If there's a better cast character, being better acted elsewhere on television in the 21st century then I missed it. The fact that Don is also, or used to be Dick, just adds to the dreaminess.

It's gorgeous, just enjoy.
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10/10
Magnum Opus of the medium TV, Mad Men are terrific and genius.
Benjamin14 July 2009
I must admit I'm more likely to be shocked how many users find this drama dull.I remember the night I had the chance to gaze at one of episodes for couple of minutes.Betty posing for a coke ad didn't seem charming or appealing to me at all, I changed the channel...

Long after the series won the Emmies, beautiful tunes of David Carnobora buzzed into my ear via commercials and I thought I might have to get the complete DVD.

HBO absolutely made their worst business move maybe in their history by dissing this show.Cos Made Men is clever, cool, charismatic, sexy but more over it's targeting the audience HBO has created over years.Not random Americans who switch between Idol, a weirdo doctors unpleasant patients who will recover thanks to him or ugly police officers digging a carpet for a strand to discover a guy who you already know committed a homicide.

OK lemme tell you about why I adore this show.Mad Men is ultimately written by people who has a giant caliber of creativity and talent.This show demands the audience to be careful, tedious, curious about what they are watching.This show is not to be figured out in a single episode.After I completed season one I had some feeling towards what Weiner had in his mind while pitching the series to channel executives.Do not let the name fool you, Mad Men is not about ad- business or copywriters, show merely talks about ads, even when they are doing an ad.It is about America, how America transferred itself -and the world which depended on it- through out the sixties.In which manners capitalism can market itself with big lies.

By showing us the differences between 60's and 2000's series easily projects ideas about our time during a past decade.Characters in the show are so real, then I mean not just protagonist Don Draper, every other big, tiny or one time characters gets his/her time on screen and therefore show builds up a magnificent universe which you believe it exits and roam safely.Mad Men is not show yelling or speaking out loud, it politely whispers...We the audience witness a group of peoples lives in NYC, Matthew Weiner cleverly puts mile stone political, social events of USA balanced with everyday life of people as well, balanced fastidiously.The one biggest disappointing down side of Mad Men is that there are almost zero on-location shootings.We never get to see the - city- or anything else.This gives the feeling of being locked in sometimes for the viewer.Cast is totally cool and sexy with their superb retro wardrobe.Jon Hamm is the perfect choice for a lead, January Jones is so sexy that you can't get her out of your mind.Smokey, brownish production design is sweet and elegant.Also soundtrack selecting is so much joyful.

I can't say Mad Men is an easy chew.You have to be patient also alert.As I sad you can get a clear feeling only after watching an entire season.Do you want to watch the same TV shows over seasons or want some fun, intelligent brain gymnastics ? The codes of Mad Men are there to decode for your own sake.Do not miss it...
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1/10
Either you will love it or (less likely) you will hate it.
jonnithomas19 April 2015
The majority of the reviewers are not from the USA and male. There is a lot of talk about its hidden depths and its realism. How it breathes life into a fascinating period of USA high flyers.

Personally I think that is rubbish. It's slow, tedious and the script is awful. The acting is wooden and half the actors seem to be told to take it slowly for the dramatic effect. Sadly that simply doesn't work.

This series is dull, meaningless and really patronising to its audience.

Watch the first in the series and if you like it then enjoy. If not don't continue as it doesn't get any better. I would sooner watch raindrops running down the window.
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8/10
A Serious Show for a Serious Audience.........
yossarian10020 July 2007
The first episode of Mad Men honestly represents the drinking, smoking, sexist fifties, a time when Madison Avenue's attitude and control permeated our entire culture, including one international political blunder after another, a time before anyone ever heard of political correctness. Gays were still in the closet, women slept their way to wherever they wanted to go, and advertising executives ruled the world. Everyone smoked because we all just looked so damn good doing it.

Mad Men captures not only the look of the fifties, it grabs all the details along with it. Here's a show for Aaron Sorkin fans, a show that treats the audience as adults, smartly written, yet a show that avoids pandering. At first, characters appear one dimensional but there's a hint of turmoil below the surface, a promise of things to come in future episodes. This, my friend, is an expose.'

I suspect Mad Men will be a small audience success story. It's a quality show, for grown ups, and the fact that it's on AMC will mean it can live a full life with less than network audience numbers.

I really enjoyed the first episode and look forward to the next. Good job!
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8/10
Painfully great fun!
gpaltrow200113 August 2007
The characters go around completely oblivious to how pointless their lives are. They think they have perfect marriages-- they don't. Perfect jobs-- nope. Perfect health even though they constantly smoke and drink-- nope. We can look back and see how phony it all was-- the advertising, the plastic homes and lives, and the social niceties and expectations. And here's the punchline-- it's US! TODAY! And that's the brilliance of the show. Today we are the same with different clothes and cars. We are jaded, full of irony and smarm, and believe we are self-aware. Imagine how a TV show (hologram show?) will look back at the sad folks of 2007 45 years from now. We tune out, blame others, scan the internet for porn, buy $5 coffee, and still can't fix the health care system. Apart from the amusement of looking into a 47 year-old mirror, the show gives us tremendous writing, acting, set decoration and drama. Let me re-emphasize my favorite part of the show-- set decoration. Kudos all around at the insistence of having the look of every scene strike me as true and accurate to the nth degree. I have watched each of the first episodes three times each. I love it!

(PS to those idiots chatting endlessly about electric typewriters and such: That's the smarminess I'm talking about. What would you rather watch? 'Flavor of Love'? 'The Steve Harvey Show'? 'According to Jim'? Gimme a break! Just enjoy a quality show while you can!!!)
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8/10
Political correctness was not yet in style...
MarieGabrielle4 September 2007
Women were objects, the steno pool was a sexist source of jokes, and the ad men were (they thought) at the top of their game. They had the world on a string and all was well in America. Eisenhower was brilliant, Communism was evil, Tobacco was good, and drinking in the office was just creative brainstorming.

Performance by Jon Hamm, as Don Draper deserves mention. I had not seen him in prior performances. He fits the narcissistic role of a creative director in advertising very well. A conflicted character, attempting to help his child-like wife make sense of her pointless life in the suburbs. (One may also read Sylvia Plath's "The Bell Jar" to get the actual effect of the time period on women. Also the film, "The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit", with Gregory Peck and Jennifer Jones, addressed the futility and role-playing of that era, particularly for women.) Vincent Kartheiser as an irritating newbie junior ad executive. John Slattery is amusing as Roger Sterling, the agency President and Sr. partner, his ego and libido running rampant. He has some amusing lines and despite being sleazy, is also a rather sympathetic character.

Overall well-written, the genre has been filmed before but certainly for a television series on AMC, this is daringly creative. It is the first non-dated, non-western I have seen on AMC in a decade. Well worth watching. 8/10.
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A perfect cocktail of early 1960s Mad Ave Noir
Alexander Chow-Stuart8 September 2007
I don't watch TV drama usually, with rare exceptions: The Sopranos (especially the early seasons) and Entourage, if that counts. Mad Men is one of the most original, refreshingly dark and complex shows I've ever seen on TV. Despite its potential for soap opera story lines, it consistently transcends expectations and explores fascinating characters and a radically changing social environment in a beautifully shot, artfully designed and, above all, excellently acted manner. After watching virtually no TV recently (less than three hours per week), my wife and I have been hooked all week, catching up on every episode - although we have yet to see the first, which a technical glitch in our On Demand service is holding tantalizingly out of reach. I loved Todd Haynes' Far From Heaven, and this is like a generously extended - and in some respects even more fascinating - adjunct to that. Madison Avenue is the perfect prism through which to view the early 1960s, and Mad Men, with its post-noir, Nixon/JFK/beatnik/martini melange, is a hugely enjoyable, finely measured cocktail that leaves just the right taste in the mouth.
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