Ultra Swank - Retro Adventures

Mad Men – Some Thoughts on Season One

Written by Christopher • December 17th, 2007
Mad Men – Some Thoughts on Season One

Since my previous post about Mad Men back in November I have now (binge) watched the entire first season (13 episodes) and will now share some of my impressions of it all.

Mad Men is a drama that revolves around the life of creative director Donald Draper who works at a prestigious ad agency in the beginning of the 1960s in midtown Manhattan, New York. Working with advertising in the 1950s and 1960s was one of the most glamorous jobs you could have along airline pilot and stewardess. Giant agencies like BBDO, McCann Erickson and Leo Burnett ruled the creative output of American copywriters, artists and art directors. And if you were working in Manhattan, you were pretty much the king of the mountain.

The creator of Mad Men, Matthew Weiner, tries to capture the essence of all the glamor and fast paced lifestyle, and does it to a certain degree quite well with decorative set pieces, lush environments, pop culture references and music straight out of a Doris Day movie.

I was very impressed by the first episodes, the writing was good, the characters were intriguing, even though a bit cliché at times. In the center, the life of creative director Donald (Don) Draper. Mysterious, dark and well dressed. So far so good. However, the various writers of the episodes explores a lot of areas at once. A few too many doors are opened – and we can get a glimpse what lies beyond – but that’s it. It gets somewhat confusing after a while. I for one would have loved if they would have kept the doors to a minimum and dug deeper into the lives of some of the main characters instead of throwing everything at us at once.

Maybe fearing that they would possibly only be allowed to to one season they packaged as much of it all as possible into a tight space. Even though I highly suspect that there will be a season two of the series. One can only hope that it will clear up what happened in the first season, slow the tempo down a notch and focus on the more important issues.


Christopher founded Ultra Swank in 2005. Has a crush on mid-century graphic design, defunct airlines, Disneyland and the Century 21 Exposition. Is a collector of easy listening music from the 60s and 70s and a Swedish expat living in Barcelona, Spain.

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  • Charles

    I absolutely will be back for the second season. I agree that they crammed too much storyline into one season. One dynamic I disliked was Draper’s brother killing himself which I think was a dead dumb plot move. The brother was worth more as a recurring threat to “out” Draper. Then there is Draper’s personal angst where he in secret moments is vulnerable. Men of his era would have finished up with the mistress and then gone home to go after the wife. It will be interesting to see if it suffers from the sophomore slump.

  • David

    Where is Catcher Block in this?

  • Chris

    He is still on his honeymoon with Barbara Novak ;-)

  • Christopher King

    I’ll be checking it out as well, my sister worked for Needham and Saatchi much later (80’s) but I get the gist, totally.

    Thanks for your contribution to today’s blawg entry, you’ll see it at bottom!

    PS: Who is the honey on the left? Nice.

  • androidlove

    I hope you’re watching Mr. Men too.

    Thank you so much for your blog.

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