31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Mad Men - Complete Season 1 [DVD] (DVD)
Incredibly well researched, this is a beautiful drama bubbling with a tension which really captures the era. Mad Men is overwhelmingly uncomfortable to watch for those of us who were brought up in an age defined by both political correctness and economic change - not only is this a chauvinistic, homophobic world defined by men, it is a world of capitalism, consumerism and greed. And yet it is exactly this which makes this so watchable.
The series revolves around an ad agency on Madison Avenue in the 60s, and its strength lies in the slow building of the characters who inhabit this shady world of cigarette sales and illicit office liasons. The central tenet of the series is office politics as the "Mad Men" vie for advertising sales of products which define the 60s,ranging from the first disposable diapers to the carousel slide projector. Set against a backdrop of an America on the edge, we are treated to original footage from, for example, the Kennedy/Nixon election campaign. We are left in no doubt that this is an accurate portrayal of a world which now seems so out of touch: where smoking and drinking to excess in the office is normal, where women are objectified and dismissed (pre 60s feminism at its most disquieting), where the billboard presentation of a sinister American Dream shaped by mass production is as much a facade as that presented by many of the characters to their nearest and dearest on a daily basis.
And it is this which keeps you hooked: there is a gripping sense of something disturbing lying just under the surface - as it does with so many of its characters- and we are never very sure when the explosion will happen. It is very real, very unsettling and above all, a harsh reminder that we have a long way to go before we can really leave behind the legacies of this era.
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Initial post: 27 Sep 2011 17:26:26 BDT
Great review. I'm only part-way through watching this DVD ...missed the show when it aired on TV ...and agree with your take on the series thus far. It really IS tense, isn't it? I am struck by the fact that -- by the end of the 5th episode -- I still don't think I know any of these characters very well at all. Each of them seems capable of just about anything. There is something quite disturbing lurking in the deep background for most of these people. I can't say I like any of them, but I find them fascinating.
I am glad this show is in no way a 50s-60s nostalgia-fest either. I grew up during that period (in the midwest, in a small town) and don't actually find very much about this show to be familiar territory for me. This is good; it's more of an adventure for me. Mad Men does deserve all the positive hype it received, I must say.
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