As we say goodbye to Don Draper, Peggy Olsen, Sterling, Cooper and Pryce and the rest of the fictionalized 1960’s New York City world, we look back at our favorite parts of the show. The Mad Men series finale will be a doozy, and it deserves to be.
After saying goodbye to Parks and Recreation just a few short months ago, Alec and Kristina are back to reminisce about the best parts of Mad Men. It was the AMC drama that followed on the heels of Breaking Bad and found just as rabid fans. After seven seasons, the Mad Men series finale will air on Sunday, having changed the cultural lexicon for many years to come.
In the meantime, these are our favorite parts about the show.
Set design and immaculate details
Before Mad Men premiered in 2007, there were few period shows, and even fewer that focused so intently on the details beyond the props handled within a scene. From the labels on the drinks on a table in the background to the televisions shows watched by the characters, Weiner and his team have been revered for the benign details that elevated the show and transported viewers into the 1960’s and 70’s.
The costumes revitalized the historical era
The costumes — and fashion designer/costumer for the show Janie Bryant — have single-handedly started a revolution (or rather, revived one from decades past). With a book about the fashion, a clothing line collaboration with Banana Republic and blogs focused specifically on recapping the outfits worn in an episode, these pieces help tell the story of the time just as much as the dialogue.
Sally and Peggy have notably changed the most, and with that their wardrobes are vastly different than seven years ago. Sally because she grew up from a young seven year old dressed like a human doll, to sultry teenager embracing the early onslaught of hippy trends, mixed with her prep-school education. Peggy, of course, went from “dowdy” secretary to what is still one of the most-coveted positions in an advertising agency. She wears a pant suit in one episode – and that’s considered groundbreaking.
The Advertising: It’s all true!
Perhaps one of the most magnificent feats Mad Men has accomplished was its realistic portrayal of the advertising world. The Kodak Carousel is one particularly memorable pitch Don gives in season 1. Was it sold to Kodak like that in reality? Probably not. But you do make story boards, and you do craft a story to sell to the client.
As a student of advertising, the pitch for clients like Kodak and Burger Chef were by-the-book perfect (Don’s Hershey’s pitch, less-so.) We’ve been watching SC&P get acquired/devoured by McCann Erikson – one of the top advertising agencies still standing today. While it’s a fictional acquisition, McCann did purchase many smaller shops during the Mad Men season 7 timeline. Bonus: the company has been live-tweeting the episodes and provides interesting insight into the way they’re being portrayed.
Topaz and Furs: A different kind of feminism
At first glance, the 1960’s setting featuring demure housewives doesn’t seem like a fertile ground for female empowerment. But Mad Men, like the great show it is (Game of Thrones is particularly good at this as well), finds room to create believable female characters. Joan, beautiful and voluptuous as she is, sees her body as both a gift and a curse. Throughout the series, she is able to use her raw sexuality to climb the corporate ladder and build a comfortable life for herself. Peggy, through sheer determination and will, is able to do the same. Each woman is in some ways jealous of the other. There are so few paths for women in their time period but the many women in Mad Men’s world are still able to use the tools available to them to slowly inch toward the lives they want to lead. As for Sally? Forget Hillary – Sally Draper will be the U.S’s first female President.
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