Mitchel Waite © 2022

Mad Men

Mad Men

“Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is OK. You are OK.”

This is one of Don Draper’s opening lines of Mad Men‘s pilot episode which resonates throughout the themes of future seasons. It’s 11am and a client meeting is in full swing. All the attendees are smeared behind a wall of cigarette smoke whilst knocking back a glass of whiskey, watching a presentation on poster-sized cards. Welcome to Sterling Cooper advertising agency, New York, 1960.

Amongst all of the debauchery, the drinking, the affairs and secrets, all of the main characters are just trying to find happiness. “The suits! Oh, don’t you just love the suits?” I’ve been asked this after numerous conversations with people who watch the show, and I can’t help but think they’re not actually watching. It’s interesting to see everyone’s interpretation of what happiness is to them and if it gives them the satisfaction they expected. In a “simpler time without emails, blackberries and mobile phones; people essentially have the same problems back then as they do today.

John Hamm, according to co-star John Slattery in a March 2012 edition of ShortList, “The thing is, it was apparent from the beginning how annoyingly good [John Hamm] was in that role [of Don Draper].” John Hamm looks like he should have been born for that era, and plays Don with subtle ticks that reference to his shady past. He is able to make Don, who on paper seems an unlikable character, likeable. The show’s casting is excellent, as is the attention to detail to create the world that they’re in.

Season 5 premièred back to business as usual at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. It’s the mid-60s, times are changing and new clients are desperately needed. Cracks already seem to be appearing in the dreams of those who ended on a high in season 4. I’ve avoided reading everything published on the new season until now in order to dodge the spoilers. It will be interesting to see where everyone ends up come the finale.

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