An Outsider’s View to ‘Mad Men’

Maybe you’ve already heard that Mad Men is returning to AMC after a 17 month hiatus.

Or maybe you don’t have cable – and you live in a cave.

I can’t tell you how much I’ve heard about this show – just within the past month – and I don’t have AMC.

Last night I watched a ‘special’ Charlie Rose featuring Matt Weiner, Jon Hamm, January Jones and some of the other actors.

Weiner emphasized how they strive for historical accuracy with props and even writing. A NBC ‘Rock Center’ segment this week aired a snippet with ‘I’m sooo over him.’ That kind of language is a more recent phenomenon.

Nitpickers point out other things like weather being wrong on this date in 196X. Because some people remember it being sunny that day in October, staff members strive to keep the actual calendar days accurate. Weiner mentioned how he tries to turn it around and use weather patterns/changes in his favor. If it rained on March 23, 196X, he tries to use that to heighten the conflict for a certain scene.

From other shows I’ve learned the cigarettes used are herbal, props are scrutinized over and the background view is actually a backdrop. I’ve only seen eight minutes of one episode – Don Draper and his wife were in Rome?- so I can’t speak that much about the show. I just think it’s so interesting how much attention is being paid to – to one show. (Note: As I write this, the Hunger Games made $17+ million in midnight screenings countrywide. Speaking of pop culture…)

Nitpickers really went after the show when Don Draper turned off the radio during a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speech. How could he not listen to it – it was so important they complained. Weiner said Americans may not thought it was that important when it happened. And why aren’t there more balck people in it? Because not that many lived above 50th Street in New York City he learned in the 1960’s.

It sounds like hindsight is the devil with some aspects to the show.

Jon Hamm originally thought their audience would comprise of people 40 and up who remember that time. Turns out they have a huge core college audience. Maybe that age group romanticizes about a time long gone. It almost sounds like the show is a living textbook for some people.

History is just as important as the character storylines.

As a writer I appreciate how much detail is thought about and scrutinized, but at the same time, that’s the chance you take when you deal with historical ‘events.’ It really is a labor of love. I don’t know if I could deal with all that, but at the same time let me say I’m also not writing or working on Mad Men. I have a real job that’s not entertainment-related. And yes, I’d jump at the chance to if it was offered to me! Who wouldn’t?! I just can’t imagine overseeing it all.

It will be interesting to see how many people watch Sunday night’s 2-hour premiere – if the hype really does live up to all the news stories I’ve seen. ‘The Walking Dead’ season finale broke all sorts of records. AMC is becoming an important entertainment force in its own right. And good for them! That’s awesome! If Bravo can corner the market on housewives and History on pawn shops and TruTV on towing companies, then AMC can succeed with dramas.


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