I don't take much pride in being somebody who's seen many films or tv programs. Most of this is due to the combination of the facts that I have a short attention span and fairly minimal free time. However, I do enjoy winding down while watching something from time to time. But a priority for me is that it must be something good. Now, I've just labeled myself as a movie and TV snob, but I hope this will give you some conviction towards the idea that the recommendation I will now make comes with validation. I'm no critic, but if something can draw me in for an hour, I know that it's something done right.
Most recently (and I'll admit that it's taken me a long time), I've finished watched the series Mad Men. Seven seasons from the show's beginning in 2007, it follows the life of Don Draper, creative director at Sterling Cooper, one of New York's leading advertising agencies in the 60's. Draper (played by Jon Hamm) is an incredibly complex, scandalous, and mysterious character, who's own story unravels towards the viewer the deeper into the show you get. This alone can draw you into the show, but it's not the only element that gets you hooked. In fact, there's much more. The cast features many distinct characters, each with their own curious storyline, and none of them are necessarily always being moral people, but they're perhaps being authentic to the hurdles that life throws at them, including the toxicity of the industry they're working in.
An especially attractive detail of this show is every finite detail that takes you back into the 60's. Everything, from the fashion, to the political events, to the office interior, to the social (and very, very sexist) behaviours, allows you to travel to a very different but monumental decade. It's done so impeccably on this show, and you can especially see the importance of advertising's role at this time. The prevalence of the marketing industry at this period of growing consumerism is comparable to any financial or tech job you'd find today in the 21st century. I found it fascinating to witness how the creatives on the teams would work and brainstorm together to come up with commercials and slogans for beloved American brands. You see the creativity, the professionalism, but also the mass of stress, involved with this line of work.
As a person watching the show, you can start to see how Mad Men is composed similar to an advertisement itself. The cinematography, the way scenes are shot, designed, filmed and presented, are so articulate and so aesthetic that they really attract the viewer's eye. Intentional or not, Matthew Weiner and his team, from start to finish, create what I think is an artistic masterpiece.
I'll be honest, I first tried to watch Mad Men when I was sixteen and I would fall asleep while watching most episodes, so I only really made it to the end of season 1. I can say now that at that age I couldn't really appreciate the artistry of the show. I also had little knowledge of the decade and the advertising industry, I only watched it because it was winning all these Emmy's at the time and I was constantly being told around me that it was a good show. There is also a certain quietness to the show. It is slow-paced and peaceful when you watch it, drowsy to an uninterested sixteen year old, but more appreciated by a twenty-two year old with an increasingly fast-paced life.
Rarely do you find a show that makes it through seven seasons without losing its flavour. Throughout its run, Mad Men sticks true to its theme, its characters, and its integrity.
100% this is worth the watch. It's all on Netflix. And you'll be sad when it's over.