I may have been one of the last people on earth to learn about the AMC show “Mad Men.” In fact, that was how a friend of mine, a big fan of the show, put it: “Are you kidding me? Where did you hide for all these years? ” So, I had to spring to life and quickly educate myself about this show that portrays a Madison Avenue advertising agency staffed mostly by men — therefore, Mad Men.
The first thing I discovered was that the show is in its fifth season, and I have a lot of catching up to do. Second, not only did the real Mad Men influence pop culture in the 1960s, but their current TV reincarnations are also influencing us all over again. The style of “Mad Men” has been emulated on runways and in retail stores. For example, the spring looks at Banana Republic feature curvy day dresses and slim cigarette pants, and designers such as J. Crew present us with slim, cropped pants, bold colors and cat-eyed sunglasses. Modern architecture, particularly the mid-century style, is in high demand, too, and quite a few show viewers rummage through their local vintage and thrift stores for bar carts, sleek sofas and chairs in mid-century styles.
Also, The LA Times recently reported that more women have been buying alcoholic beverages in general and brandy or whiskey in particular, as well as ordering a Sidecar or an Old Fashioned, both favored by “Mad Men.” On top of that, a version of the old French pop song “Zou Bisou Bisou,” (roughly translated into “Oh! Kiss Kiss!”), which Megan sings to Don Draper for his 40th birthday at the beginning of the fifth season, has been recorded as a single on iTunes, with a special limited edition vinyl sold on the show’s website.
I then turned my attention to the show’s actors. I learned that Jon Hamm (Don Draper) studied theater at MU, and voluptuous Christina Hendricks (Joan Holloway) has redefined the slim-to-the-bone stereotype of beauty to a more realistic woman’s shape. (Statistics from the British association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons suggest that women having breast implant surgery jumped more than ten percent in 2010, citing Hendricks as partially responsible.)
Armed with all this knowledge, I began looking for books, and, of course, my library has not disappointed me either. Here’s a list of titles for those who cannot satisfy their “thirst” by TV alone:
- “Mad Men: The Illustrated World” by Dyna Moe
- “The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men” by Judy Gelman
- “Mad Men Unbuttoned: A Romp Through 1960s America” by Natasha Vargas-Cooper
- “The Fashion File: Advice, Tips, and Inspiration from the Costume Designer of Mad Men” by Janie Bryant
- “Mad Men: Dream Come True TV” by Gary Edgerton
- “Mad Man and Philosophy: Nothing Is as it Seems” by Rod Carveth
- “The Real Mad Men: The Renegades of Madison Avenue and the Golden Age of Advertising” by Andrew Cracknell
All in all, I now feel well prepared for the new “Mad Men” season, and when someone tells me that she does not care for the show’s characters, I cite David Frost: “[Television is] an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn’t have in your home.”