May 12, 2014
Mad Men Reveals Its Real Madman

Dissecting “The Runaways,” the fifth episode of the seventh season.
Read more. [Image: AMC]

Mad Men Reveals Its Real Madman

Dissecting “The Runaways,” the fifth episode of the seventh season.

Read more. [Image: AMC]

May 5, 2014
Mad Men Enters the Future—and Maybe the Peggy Olson Era

Dissecting “The Monolith,” the fourth episode of the seventh season
Read more. [Image: AMC]

Mad Men Enters the Future—and Maybe the Peggy Olson Era

Dissecting “The Monolith,” the fourth episode of the seventh season

Read more. [Image: AMC]

April 28, 2014
Man Men: Is Don’s Marriage Over? Is His Career?

Dissecting “Field Trip,” the third episode of the seventh season
Read more. [Image: AMC]

Man Men: Is Don’s Marriage Over? Is His Career?

Dissecting “Field Trip,” the third episode of the seventh season

Read more. [Image: AMC]

April 21, 2014
Mad Men: Is This the Woman Who Can Save Don Draper?

Dissecting “A Day’s Work,” the second episode of the seventh season
Read more. [Image: AMC]

Mad Men: Is This the Woman Who Can Save Don Draper?

Dissecting “A Day’s Work,” the second episode of the seventh season

Read more. [Image: AMC]

April 14, 2014
My Parents, the Real Mad Men

My father saw one episode of Mad Men and refused to watch any more. “You don’t make great ads by drinking and screwing all day!” was his angry objection to a show that he felt insulted the work he’d given his best years to.
As creative director at the Detroit ad agency Campbell-Ewald during precisely the same years that Mad Men portrays, my father, Thomas Murray, had poured his heart into making better advertising for what was the biggest client in the world, General Motors. 
And now some TV creeps were going to use all that as a stylish backdrop for a drama about decadence?
Over his dead body.
Since Dad died in 2009, I’ve been researching the contribution he and the other 1960s ad men made in the hopes of helping Mad Men fans learn what they missed by seeing that world through the filter of Don Draper’s preposterous drinking and casual sex. In a memoir I’m working on, I hope to commemorate the earnest, occasionally fierce, and almost moral devotion of 1960s advertising people to making more communicative, more candid, more human advertising for conservative corporate clients. 
Yes, but what about all the interoffice grab-ass? Was it really like that?
I’d say no, except I’m the product of it—but of a version that also contrasts significantly with the portrayal in Mad Men, and connects more coherently with how we live and work today.
Read more. [Image courtesy of David Murray]

My Parents, the Real Mad Men

My father saw one episode of Mad Men and refused to watch any more. “You don’t make great ads by drinking and screwing all day!” was his angry objection to a show that he felt insulted the work he’d given his best years to.

As creative director at the Detroit ad agency Campbell-Ewald during precisely the same years that Mad Men portrays, my father, Thomas Murray, had poured his heart into making better advertising for what was the biggest client in the world, General Motors. 

And now some TV creeps were going to use all that as a stylish backdrop for a drama about decadence?

Over his dead body.

Since Dad died in 2009, I’ve been researching the contribution he and the other 1960s ad men made in the hopes of helping Mad Men fans learn what they missed by seeing that world through the filter of Don Draper’s preposterous drinking and casual sex. In a memoir I’m working on, I hope to commemorate the earnest, occasionally fierce, and almost moral devotion of 1960s advertising people to making more communicative, more candid, more human advertising for conservative corporate clients. 

Yes, but what about all the interoffice grab-ass? Was it really like that?

I’d say no, except I’m the product of it—but of a version that also contrasts significantly with the portrayal in Mad Men, and connects more coherently with how we live and work today.

Read more. [Image courtesy of David Murray]

April 14, 2014
The Mad Men Season 7 Premiere: The Same Old Don Draper?

Our roundtable discusses the first episode of the seventh season.
Read more. [Image: AMC]

The Mad Men Season 7 Premiere: The Same Old Don Draper?

Our roundtable discusses the first episode of the seventh season.

Read more. [Image: AMC]

10:55am
  
Filed under: Television Mad Men TV Time Zones 
April 11, 2014
Mad Men's New, Profound Ugliness

In 2010, The Guardian cleverly gave a name to an epidemic that was sweeping the Western world: “Madmenalaria.” According to an advice column published in November of that year, the key diagnosable symptom of Madmenalaria was an obsession with emulating the hairstyles and fashions worn on AMC’s Mad Men, then in its fourth season. In 2011, the outbreak of Madmenalaria worsened when Banana Republic launched its Mad Men line, which helped bring early-‘60s business wear—like tailored narrow suits, skinny ties, and fedoras for men, and scarves, pearls, belted dresses, and pencil skirts for women—back into vogue.
But after the credits roll on this coming Sunday’s premiere for the show’s seventh and final season, Madmenalaria may be eliminated forever.
Read more. [Image: AMC]

Mad Men's New, Profound Ugliness

In 2010, The Guardian cleverly gave a name to an epidemic that was sweeping the Western world: “Madmenalaria.” According to an advice column published in November of that year, the key diagnosable symptom of Madmenalaria was an obsession with emulating the hairstyles and fashions worn on AMC’s Mad Men, then in its fourth season. In 2011, the outbreak of Madmenalaria worsened when Banana Republic launched its Mad Men line, which helped bring early-‘60s business wear—like tailored narrow suits, skinny ties, and fedoras for men, and scarves, pearls, belted dresses, and pencil skirts for women—back into vogue.

But after the credits roll on this coming Sunday’s premiere for the show’s seventh and final season, Madmenalaria may be eliminated forever.

Read more. [Image: AMC]

March 21, 2014
The Madness of Matthew Weiner

In different phases of his work on Mad Men, the show’s creator, Matthew Weiner, has said he has come to identify with one or another of his characters. Now, as the final season nears its premiere, his heart is with Roger Sterling, the naughty ad man who gets all the best lines. Weiner is not a hound dog like Sterling (he is married to the mother of his four children). Unlike Sterling, he does not experiment with psychedelic drugs (“I don’t have the constitution for it,” he told me). He doesn’t look much like Sterling (Weiner is younger and shorter, and prefers L.A. casual to Madison Avenue dashing). And they aren’t temperamentally all that similar (Sterling is wry and aloof, Weiner focused and excitable). But they both have “very intense dreams,” Weiner says, that deeply color their everyday perceptions. And both are “interested in certain adventures,” which in Sterling’s case might mean an LSD trip or kinky sex in the office, and in Weiner’s means pushing the show’s central character, Don Draper, off a cliff and showing us how he lands.
When the first episode of Mad Men aired, in July 2007, Weiner’s hope was to have the show renewed for enough seasons to cover the entire decade of the ’60s. Since then, we’ve followed the characters from the suburban ennui of the early part of the decade through the turmoil of 1968, a span that includes the introduction of free love, Hare Krishna devotees, wide lapels, and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. By now, Weiner has lived with these particular characters long enough to have the “meta-experience, if you go back and watch the first season, of nostalgia.”
Read more. [Image: John Cuneo]

The Madness of Matthew Weiner

In different phases of his work on Mad Men, the show’s creator, Matthew Weiner, has said he has come to identify with one or another of his characters. Now, as the final season nears its premiere, his heart is with Roger Sterling, the naughty ad man who gets all the best lines. Weiner is not a hound dog like Sterling (he is married to the mother of his four children). Unlike Sterling, he does not experiment with psychedelic drugs (“I don’t have the constitution for it,” he told me). He doesn’t look much like Sterling (Weiner is younger and shorter, and prefers L.A. casual to Madison Avenue dashing). And they aren’t temperamentally all that similar (Sterling is wry and aloof, Weiner focused and excitable). But they both have “very intense dreams,” Weiner says, that deeply color their everyday perceptions. And both are “interested in certain adventures,” which in Sterling’s case might mean an LSD trip or kinky sex in the office, and in Weiner’s means pushing the show’s central character, Don Draper, off a cliff and showing us how he lands.

When the first episode of Mad Men aired, in July 2007, Weiner’s hope was to have the show renewed for enough seasons to cover the entire decade of the ’60s. Since then, we’ve followed the characters from the suburban ennui of the early part of the decade through the turmoil of 1968, a span that includes the introduction of free love, Hare Krishna devotees, wide lapels, and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. By now, Weiner has lived with these particular characters long enough to have the “meta-experience, if you go back and watch the first season, of nostalgia.”

Read more. [Image: John Cuneo]

February 20, 2014

How the Internet Uses Nostalgia to Sell

Vanilla Ice is selling Kraft macaroni and cheese now. The dudes of Full House are selling Greek yogurt. Boyz II Men recently made a cameo on How I Met Your Mother. This year’s Super Bowl featured, of all people, Flea. We are having, in other words, a moment of ’90s nostalgia, one occasioned in part by millennials (or The Youths or Those Kids or whatever you want to call them) who are aging into adulthood and therefore eager to relive their childhoods.

Which leads to, among other things, Ice coming back—yet again—with a brand new invention. And he’s in good company, too. The boxed dinner he would like you to buy? Its noodles come in the shape of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Nostalgia, the copious literature on it suggests, comes in two basic forms. One is organic, the kind that washes over you when you see an old picture of yourself and your cousins, aged 7 and 9 and 10, giggling maniacally while innertubing on Lake Michigan. The kind that emergences unexpectedly, as a kind of pleasant pang—the stuff of sudden songs and serendipitous scents and sour-sweet Madeleines.

The other form—the form that may well feel most familiar to us at this point—is a media product. It’s the re-introduction of Uncle Joey or Dawson’s Creek'sJoey or Blossom's Joey, appropriated to arouse a vague sense that we have lost something as we’ve moved, inexorably, into our futures. This form of nostalgia is usually invoked, in one way or another, to sell us stuff. And you could, because of that, dismiss its validity (fauxstalgia?). But it will live on, inevitably, because media producers know exactly what advertisers have long understood: that nostalgia, like sex, sells.

Read more.

4:25pm
  
Filed under: Nostalgia Mad Men Fauxstalgia 
October 31, 2013
The Forgotten Joy of 1960 Presidential Campaign Jingles

The pep was palpable. As scenes from the 1960 presidential campaign flashed by during a screening of JFK hosted in partnership with The Atlantic, the addictive, saccharine soundtrack was mesmerizing. Political jingles cheerfully urged listeners to vote for Kennedy, then Johnson, then Nixon—men, each song manically assured, who could lead America. It felt like a rogue a cappella group had taken the auditorium hostage.
For some reason, today’s campaign songs don’t quite capture this quality—Springsteen and Kid Rock lack that special perkiness. To revive a little of our republic’s former campaigning joy, The Atlantic has dutifully assembled a sample of the political earworms unleashed on the unwitting American public in 1960. 
That year’s master of the campaign song was, of course, John F. Kennedy. His famous friendship with Frank Sinatra helped him secure “High Hopes,” a 1959 hit that was tweaked a little to fit Kennedy’s campaign.
Read more. [Image: Kheel Center, Cornell University/flickr]

The Forgotten Joy of 1960 Presidential Campaign Jingles

The pep was palpable. As scenes from the 1960 presidential campaign flashed by during a screening of JFK hosted in partnership with The Atlantic, the addictive, saccharine soundtrack was mesmerizing. Political jingles cheerfully urged listeners to vote for Kennedy, then Johnson, then Nixon—men, each song manically assured, who could lead America. It felt like a rogue a cappella group had taken the auditorium hostage.

For some reason, today’s campaign songs don’t quite capture this quality—Springsteen and Kid Rock lack that special perkiness. To revive a little of our republic’s former campaigning joy, The Atlantic has dutifully assembled a sample of the political earworms unleashed on the unwitting American public in 1960. 

That year’s master of the campaign song was, of course, John F. Kennedy. His famous friendship with Frank Sinatra helped him secure “High Hopes,” a 1959 hit that was tweaked a little to fit Kennedy’s campaign.

Read more. [Image: Kheel Center, Cornell University/flickr]

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