Unlike the rest of Hipster Nation, Kris and I haven’t been able to get into Mad Men. This show on AMC is ostensibly about the men (and women) working at an advertising agency on New York’s Madison Avenue during the early 1960s. It’s been lauded for its acting, directing, writing, and (especially) its art design.
I admit that Mad Men does a great job of capturing the look and feel of the 1960s, or what I know of it. I was born in 1969, so my impressions of a show set in 1961 are skewed by what I knew of the early 1970s. But from what I do remember, the show gets tons right. It feels real.
However, a lot of it seems way over the top. The men smoke, drink, and flirt constantly. They’re all complete sexists. Now, I know that that smoking, drinking, and sexism were much, much more common in 1961 than they are now, almost fifty years later. I remember how commonplace smoking was when I was a child, and I remember how sexist my father was. But even my dad knew that his sexist jokes were in poor taste (he just couldn’t help himself). And chain smokers were only a subset of the smoking population, not the general rule.
There are certain scenes in Mad Men that just seem intended to shock, and they don’t really represent how things were in the 1960s. Plus, I find much of the dialogue to be wooden and forced — almost painful to listen to. (This may be because of the actors, I don’t know.)
I’m giving the show a second chance. I’ve been re-watching the first season recently, but I don’t know. My evaluation is still pretty much the same. It’s okay, but I just don’t get why everyone thinks it’s so amazing. It’s nothing like The Wire. In fact, I’d rather watch The Biggest Loser!
All that having been said, I do like the theme song, “A Beautiful Mine” by RJD2. Others like the song too, apparently. Recently, a group of musicians got together to produce a mash-up of “A Beautiful Mine” with the haunting song “Nature Boy”, which has been one of my favorites since I heard it in Moulin Rouge. Here it is:
This is awesome, of course, but one of the best parts is that this was recorded live in a single continuous take. (Although it apparently took 29 tries to get it right!)