Spoilers, in case like me you’ve managed to avoid them for the last six years.
If you’ve been reading Pure Geekery for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed that I’m awful with pop culture. I don’t keep up with shows, movies, or games. Often Claire will ask me “Have you seen X?” And I’ll have to say “No.” It’s become the joke among my friends. If you haven’t seen a movie that even I’ve seen, you’re in sad shape. Knowing this, it should be no surprise that I’m just now getting around to watching the first season of Mad Men.
My motivation to finally start watching was because I was looking for home decor ideas. But I’ve fallen in love with this show. As Ryan said “It’s crazy. Absolutely nothing seems to happen, but it’s so good.”
The show really seems to be a character study. Since we’re at the beginning of the series, where we’re getting the groundwork for these characters, let’s go over some of them.
Don Draper: Let’s start with Don Draper, the main character around Mad Men is created. As a character he’s great. He’s a mystery. Not only do we not know much about him, the other characters don’t know much about him either. He’s also the character that women in my Pinterest feed seem to swoon over, and I just don’t get it. I mean sure, it’d be great to have a guy randomly show up and offer to take you to Paris (you know, as long as it’s not his wife). But he’s really kind of a pompous ass.
Roger Sterling: Personally, I’m more of a Roger Sterling fan myself. He’s also an ass, but at least he knows it and embraces it. He’s the son of the namesake in Sterling-Cooper, and a mentor to Don. He’s just a much of a womanizer (at times more so) than Don, but at least doesn’t look down his nose at other people who do the same thing.
Betty Draper: Don is married to Betty, who you can’t help but think “poor girl” whenever she comes on the screen. She’s kind of childish and really seems…empty. Not in a character development empty but a “I chose to be detached and cold” empty. There’s a moment early in the series where she wrecks the car and is most concerned that her daughter would have a scar, because who would want a woman with a scar. Throughout the season she sees a shrink (who reports back to Don), about her (what I’m assuming is) depression.
Peggy Olsen: Don’s secretary is Peggy Olsen. She’s the good girl who came to the big city. She’s a really likeable character although she has times when she’s misguided. She’s ambitious and a feminist (although I doubt she’d admit the latter), but she’s also really sweet to everyone else. That is, she’s not a “success at all costs” type. Freddy, one of the men under Don’s leadership, notices she has a way with words during a lipstick trial and Peggy is given the campaign. By the end of the season she becomes the first female copywriter at Sterling-Cooper since WWII.
Joan Holloway: Oh Joan’s a bitch, and that’s why we love her. She has the most fabulous wardrobe, she flirts back with the men, and she generally doesn’t care what the other women say about her. She’s definitely the one you want on your side if something is about to go down.
Pete Campbell: This guy is the worst. If this were set in the 2010’s he’d be the guy whose mom comes in and talks the boss because he didn’t get the raise/promotion/whatever he thinks he should have gotten. He’s upset he hasn’t been promoted in his time at Sterling-Cooper, although it seems he spends all his time undermining his superiors and scheming to get to the top. You know, instead of actually doing something to prove he belongs there. But he does have a very likeable entourage.
Ken Cosgrove: One of the member’s of Pete’s entourage, I’m surprised Ken Cosgrove hasn’t stolen the show. He seems to be the guy we should all be swooning over. He seems to be a nice guy (although that could be his surroundings), and he’s a writer.
Harry Crane: Another member of Pete’s entourage, and if we’re being honest, probably the guy in the office I’d be likely to be interested in. He calls his wife to ask for advice at work, and while he flirts he doesn’t act on it. Until he gets too drunk at the company party and sleeps with one of the secretaries. He admits it to his wife and is later seen sleeping at the office.
Thoughts on Mad Men Season One
So far, Ryan’s description has been 100% accurate. And I love it. The clothes, the scenery, the atmosphere, all of it is amazing. You’re watching these people live their lives, and not much happens but it doesn’t happen in the most perfect way. It’s like looking into a glamorized, romanticized time capsule.