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Beautiful Vices

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Around Christmas time I received a small, thoughtful gift. It was the box set of the first season of the TV series “Mad Men”.

My previous life—and a sliver of my present life—is in advertising. I have read many commentaries about the show, particularly the attention to detail in graphics and set dressing.

They were right. The production is visually beautiful, and as far as I can tell, historically accurate. I love the incessant pervasive cigarette smoking. I have worked with people who are close friends with liquor just as the characters are.

I was, however, not familiar with the storyline. It appears to be a show for the 21st Century, set in a 1960 universe. I hoped for more attention to the world of advertising, as it was coming to full flower with the onset of the television era. As a drama, still, I am engaged.

Writing for today’s audience is good advertising and smart marketing. But I’m afraid that it paints a darker picture than that era deserves. Every perversion and moral failing from today’s headlines is projected back into the plot. It isn’t just drama, it is aware drama.

At times, the slavish dedication to Hollywood/liberal memes becomes trite. Does the roommate have to be a lesbian…? I’m not sure I like any of the characters. Maybe some of the minor ones, who are flatter stereotypes, that are a refreshing change from political correctness.

There are twists a-plenty. And I don’t know where it is headed. (Although, I was curious about the town where the Drapers live, and my Wikipeding spoiled one detail.)

On the beauty of scenes alone, I think I want to try smoking again. Instead, I’ll just order the Season 2 discs.