Betty Draper pours her first drink of the day while the kids eat their breakfast cereal. In the early 1960s, being a perfect suburban housewife requires a state of sustained inebriation.
Meanwhile, her impossibly handsome, successful, and now ex-husband Don, shares her fondness for cocktails, and also indulges with awesome regularity in his other addiction, chasing skirts. In his world, anything in beads, boobs, and beehives is up for grabs.
Last season, their marriage collapsed in a haze of infidelity, loneliness, dysfunction and alcoholism.
But lucky for us, that’s not the end of the story: Mad Men returns July 25th.
AMC’s Mad Men has become a cultural phenomenon in much the same way as the Sopranos once was: influencing fashion, language, lifestyle, and endless nostalgic theme parties. The difference is “The Sopranos” showcased ordinary lives of people in organized crime, an alien world most of us know only from books and movies.
Mad Men, on the other hand, delivers an inside look at people trying to manage complicated lives, climb the corporate ladder, and survive in an ‘everyday rat-race’ we can relate to. The fact that they regularly enjoy 3-martini lunches, smoke like chimneys, and conduct multiple extramarital affairs seems more awesome because it’s less distant. We remember people that lived like that.
Prenatal cigarettes and cocktails weren’t frowned upon, and almost everybody smoked everywhere. Homosexuality was something to be concealed, and inter-office relationships ran amok in the heady days before harassment suits. Norms change. What is outrageous to us in 2010, seemed completely normal in 1964.
While we were enamored with The Brady Bunch, Doris Day, and Bewitched, over on Madison Avenue, the Mad Men in advertising were pouring scotch, pinching their secretaries and pitching their big accounts before heading out to a 3-martini lunch. Then, it was all in a day’s work.