Mad Men

Critics of ‘Mad Men’s’ Workplace Sexism Are Picking the Wrong Fight With Matthew Weiner

For years, Matthew Weiner has been hearing two different reactions to the casual workplace sexism depicted on Mad Men — with men saying it was unrealistic and women saying it nailed their experience, he told Larry King this week. The gendered split remained just as pronounced after this month’s mid-season premiere, “Severance,” which featured an excruciating scene in which Peggy and especially Joan are the targets of blatant sexual harassment. After it aired, Weiner said, the reaction was as expected: “As usual, a bunch of men get on and say, ‘This is outrageous. You went too far, it’s too unbelievable,’ and all the women are [saying], ‘You’re nuts. It’s still like this. You have no idea.’” … Read More

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‘The Sopranos,’ ‘Mad Men,’ and How Our Obsession With Series Finales Is Hurting TV

A “dek,” for those who aren’t in the news business or acquainted with the jargon, is what they call that summary of an article that runs between the headline and the text itself. It’s a handy way to hook readers; it can also save time, as in the case of “This Magic Moment,” a new article for the Directors Guild of America’s DGA Quarterly, in which Sopranos creator David Chase discusses that show’s last scene, yet again. “What he won’t say is what happened at the end,” concludes the dek, which should effectively put off the kind of numbskull who’s still hung up on a literal interpretation of the show’s conclusion, eight frigging years after it aired. … Read More

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Stylish Illustrations of Every Single Woman Don Draper Has Slept With

We’ve spent six and a half seasons of Mad Men trying to answer the question, “Who is Don Draper?” At this point, we have enough information to guess that the point is, we’ll never know — that Don might not even have a core self after all. But for those still collecting clues, the women with whom Don (increasingly briefly) shares his life (or just his bed) provide a fascinating negative-space portrait of a self-destructive womanizer. So it’s only fitting that artist, illustrator, and art director Hannah Choi has, in turn, created a series of stylish portraits that immortalize every single woman Don has slept with — from Betty and Megan to “Candace the escort” and the nameless beauties he meets in bars. Click through for some highlights from The Women of Don Draper, and follow the project on Tumblr for inevitable updates. … Read More

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‘Mad Men’ Season 7 Episode 9 Recap: “New Business”

The most unfortunate effect of AMC’s decision to split Mad Men Season 7 into two halves is that it’s hurt the show’s ability to digress. Mad Men tends to be at its best not in tone-setting premieres or finales and the plot-heavy episodes the precede them, but in expansive mid-season vignettes like “The Suitcase” and “The Crash.” Considering that the show also likes to fold in lightweight hodgepodges like “New Business,” and it’ll be a welcome surprise if we end up with even one more classic episode between now and the series finale. … Read More

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‘Mad Men’ Fashion: Joan Holloway’s Most Iconic Style Moments

It would require two hands to count how many Joan Holloways I’ve encountered on Halloween over the years. Her look is iconic: red hair in an up-do; a curve-hugging, short-sleeved, gem-toned ponte dress with a pencil skirt and a cinched waist; a gold brooch; her signature pencil necklace; and a fierce strut through the halls of Sterling Cooper. … Read More

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Why It’s Impossible to Hate Roger Sterling, ‘Mad Men’s’ Silver Fox With a Silver Spoon

It’s stating the obvious to say that the point of Mad Men isn’t for viewers to like the characters — they all have their flaws, be they obvious (like one D. Draper) or more subtle (like pretty much everyone else). Still, there’s something infinitely affable about 1960s New York City’s foremost aging bon vivant and silver fox, Roger H. Sterling, Jr. … Read More

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Work Won’t Save You: The New Season of ‘Mad Men’ Changes Everything

I am not supposed to reveal the specifics of Don Draper’s “romantic life” in the second half of Mad Men Season 7, as per creator Matthew Weiner’s notoriously rigid instructions to critics. And that’s just as well, because what’s more important is the less literal way in which Sunday night’s mid-season premiere conflates Don’s women with his work. Women, we’re given to understand, drift in and out of his life like actresses at a casting session. Or ghosts. These metaphors aren’t shocking, or even necessarily new; what’s surprising is that they say more about Don’s relationship to work than his relationships with his wives, girlfriends, and one-night stands. … Read More

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Why ‘Mad Men’ Is Comfort-Food TV for Viewers Who Didn’t Live Through the ’60s

Mad Men is, at its essence, a show about terrible things happening to occasionally terrible people. Its characters are adulterers, careerists, alcoholics, and liars; they’re prone to selfishness, sexism, racism, and exploitation. Set in a period of massive social shift, they’re often (and often proudly) on the wrong side of history. The country’s in a shambles, relationships are falling apart, children are being damaged, lives are being destroyed. Even in this antihero-friendly pop culture environment, such grim goings-on risk alienating even the most intellectual audience — and yet Mad Men has done anything but that, drawing a viewership that ravenously consumes the bad behavior of its subjects. What pulls them to the show? Here’s one theory: in an odd, schadenfreude-tinged way, Mad Men is comfort television. … Read More

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Stop Blaming Megan for Don Draper’s Mistakes

Perfection is a terrible premise for a character. But in the charred emotional landscape of Sterling Cooper & Partners (& spouses), Megan Draper is as close to it as one gets. Beautiful, talented, and self-assured, Megan seems devoid of the tension that creates dynamic, believable fiction in the abstract and fan favorites like ambitious, unsatisified Peggy Olson in particular. On the surface, in fact, the only thing she appears to share with the other women at the center of the Mad Men universe — Peggy, her former colleague; Joan, her onetime boss; and Betty, her bitter predecessor — is the man who’s impacted their lives in various, mostly negative ways. But over the last three seasons, Megan has slowly grown into a figure almost as compelling as she is underrated. … Read More

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Peggy Olson Is the Most Accurate Depiction of Women in the Workplace TV Has Ever Seen

Since the days that Mad Men depicts, blatant workplace sexism may have retreated, but it’s in no way been eradicated. In fact, a woman can go through a long career feeling like she’s been squeezed into being a Megan, then a Peggy, then a Joan, even taking a detour into being a Betty when she has kids. Yet Peggy Olson is perhaps the most predictable focus of identification for the female fans of the show, because her journey is so painful, and feels so real. From the first-episode moment when she tries to comfort Don Draper with a flirty hand-squeeze and that habitual secretary seducer essentially laughs her out of the room, we knew her story would be different. … Read More

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