Mad Men illuminates darker side of ‘60s culture

The lives of Don Draper, his beautiful wife Betty and their two lovely children may look perfect from far away, but behind closed doors this 1960s picturesque family is anything but.

“Mad men” are the New York ad men who sell not just ideas, but ways of life to brands just making it big in the 1950s and ‘60s, such as Clearasil and Crest.

The mad men spend their days sitting in board meetings at Sterling Cooper, never far from a glass of whiskey and their nights of wining and dining with potential clients.

Alongside the mad men are their secretaries who are hiding just as many secrets as them. In a town as ruthless as New York, some will do anything to get ahead.

Mad Men has won an Emmy and Golden Globe with its first two seasons. It is a show that is almost completely about character development. There are reasons to love and hate each and every one of them. Even the most lovable characters have a dark side.

Don Draper seemingly has it all. The show begins with Don as Head of Accounts, and in the second season he becomes a partner in the company. Everyone loves him, but no one knows the details of his past or the fact that his name isn’t even Don Draper.

Traditional 1960 family values go out the window in Mad Men, and it isn’t uncommon for the executives to leave for a few hours during the day to rendezvous with certain ladies who are not their wives.

While Don is making plays in the boardroom and the bedroom, there are several young up-and-coming executives that would do anything to become Head of Accounts.

These include the cutthroat Peter Campbell as well as Ken Cosgrove, a fun-loving young man with a penchant for writing.

Toward the end of season two, Betty found out about Don’s adulterous behavior and kicked him out of the house. To maintain the Draper family’s reputation, Betty tells no one and can hardly handle the emotional breakdowns.

In the finale, the question as to whether or not Don will move back in is answered by Betty finding out she is pregnant.

Season three starts out with another peek into Don’s past, showing how he came to be adopted and why he wants to bury his demons as deep as possible.

The British company that bought Sterling Cooper is making a lot of changes and every employee is anticipating a huge layoff. Don and Sal, the art director, go on a business trip together where Don still can’t quash his playboy ways and Sal begins to come to terms with his sexuality and the taboos that surround it.

Mad Men never disappoints, and the season three premiere is no different. New drama, new characters, and new shocking turns of events keep the fans waiting to see what the Madison Avenue mad men have in store week after week.

With its subtle plot development and award-winning characters, Mad Men is truly a pleasure to watch.

TELEVISION

Mad Men

Network: AMC

When: Sundays, 10 p.m.

Genre: Drama

Starring: Jon Hamm, January Jones, Vincent Kartheiser, Elizabeth Moss

Our take: ***** (out of 5)