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Colette Fitzpatrick: Why I am addicted to boozing, chain-smoking, sexist series Mad Men

Watch Mad Men and step into a time machine that brings you straight to Planet Boys Club where white, misogynistic men slap women on the backside while asking them to shorten their skirt and 'fix me a drink, sweetheart.' And it's only 10.30 in the morning.

The women degrade themselves to cater to that arrogance, are underestimated in the workplace or live lives of quiet desperation in the suburbs.

It is un-PC 1960s America and the beginning of the consumer society. An ad agency in Manhattan in an era of sexual tension yet repression, of power play in the boardroom and bedroom, of shocking chauvinism and inequality. Every cleaner and lift operator is black, every management position held by a man, and every secretarial job by a woman.


The detail of Mad Men is pitch perfect -- the form-fitting dresses, pointy bras, girdles, cardigans and pearls for the women.

The men wear narrow lapelled suits, retro ties, cufflinks and folded handkerchiefs. And there's the smoke. Lots of it. Lucky Strike smoke constantly swirling about the screen in every scene. The heavily pregnant women smoke and drink, even in the baby room. You might just contract lung disease by watching.

Don Draper, the show's main character, is a man any self-respecting feminist would avoid like the plague. A cheating, chauvinistic, brilliant ad man whose own identity and rebranding are at the core of this show.

His wife Betty is a beautiful Stepford Wife; immaculately groomed, neurotic, and desperately unhappy. Joan Holloway is office manager. Size 14 and all curves, she almost tips over in some dresses and uses the office floor like a catwalk -- a revenge for dieting women everywhere.

She trades on her looks to get what she wants and has a sharp tongue -- "I said congratulations, didn't I? Although, sometimes when people get what they want, they realise how limited their goals were."

The watchful, meek but intelligent Peggy Olson struggles to be taken seriously in a man's world. It intrigues me why, as a progressive thirtysomething, I'm entranced by a world that was so sexist, degrading to women, reckless with alcohol, food and cigarettes and ticks every transgression in the modern woman's book.

Is it because that world, though unfair and unequal, is one on the cusp of change, of possibility, of the future when everything will be better for women and minorities? Or is it because I love the clothes, the style, the abandon and lack of concern for what might happen when you have risky sex, smoke and drink and couldn't care less about the world we live in? Or is it because Don Draper's despicable behaviour is part of a man who's hard to resist?


If you want to channel your inner 60s self and see what you'd look like with a nipped in waist and plunging neckline strutting down Madison Avenue, go ahead, light up and log on to the brilliant Madmenyourself.com.

Joan Holloway, move your size 14 self over ...