Opinion Columnists

Tuesday 19 November 2019

Melanie Morris: Mad Men - the return of the greatest story ever sold

I WAS trying out a new, uber-hip restaurant in the city centre the other day, and ordered a bloody mary seafood cocktail. “How very Mad Men,” I mused…

It's funny how a TV series can manage to strike a chord. From the moment I saw the first episode of the first series, the images of whiskeys in the boardroom, tight-sweatered secretaries, cigarettes, messy infidelity and male chauvinism has stuck in my mind, pretty much as firmly as Joan Holloway's scarlet lipstick to a glass.

In recent days a teaser trailer for the final season – number seven – has been released. It will air in Ireland next month. Interestingly, they've cut the series in half, with the first to run now, the second in 2015.

Social media is already buzzing with conjecture, though thankfully no spoilers as yet, such is show creator Matthew Weiner's smart secrecy.

LEGACY

But whatever happens over these final episodes, we can be sure the show will leave a legacy of the era far more picturesque than anything that has gone before.

Adland in the 1950s and 1960s was always something of lore and legend, but it was never articulated so well. The makers of Mad Men made it far more impactful.

Yes, we knew about the long, late lunches, the tedious commutes back to life behind picket fences in the suburbs, and how the boardroom was very much a men-only zone, but the show heightened everything so much more.

Probably a bit like Irish politics in the 1970s and 1980s… we all knew exactly what was going on, but never really scratched beneath the surface.

But thanks to Don Draper and his henchmen, a new world opened up to those of us who soldiered on with the series, even when RTE insisted on putting it on at very ungodly weeknight hours (what was that about anyhow?).

The characters spawned a whole raft of fashion trends – from the curvy, sultry siren to the Grace Kelly-esque 50s housewife. Men got back into suits and skinny ties, even the graphic style of the opening credits started to appear on Mad Men-themed fliers for nightclubs, fashion shows and afternoon tea events.

Those mossy green colours so prevalent in the series helped us Instragram with Mad Men-style filters. I'm humming the theme music in my head as I type.

Many argued that the show was a large dose of “style over substance”, but I like to think of it as style…. style with substance. As we know, a picture paints a thousand words, and I have so many visual images from the show.

The typing pool, the cocktail bars, the boardroom, the train journeys, the frequent bits of ‘afternoon delight', the Draper's depressing, sun-bleached home. Apparently series seven sees time push on to the psychedelic late Sixties… a further opportunity for sartorial and social mores to be examined as we step from monochrome to full-blast Technicolor.

Prepare for a whole now style explosion at the hands of Milton Glaser, the iconic graphic artist who created the infamous I heart NY logo and has designed a poster for the new series – it's suddenly all very Austin Powers.

How Don will take to the new era of loosened collars and more emancipated career women will be interesting.

And what will we, the viewers be channelling? Mini skirts, hippy hair and The Rolling Stones? It certainly makes me wonder what I might be eating in that hip restaurant next time I drop in.

Irish Independent

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