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Mad Men Journals

Mad Men Journals

Journal 1: The Pilot

In the first episode, the main characters are outlined only in silhouette. Their contours are only beginning to fill with hatching. Don Draper has a Purple Heart for bravery, which is an allusion to his participation in the war (which war?) and his refusal to talk about his past. His new secretary, Peggy, is a girl straight out of a Secretarial school. She is a quiet gray mouse, which is very curious, sharp-nosed creature with clever eyes, ready to notice all that she needs for career heights.

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The entire first episode is a queue of dialogues, and the only scene of silence is a moment of Peggy’s seduction with short remark towards her neighbor: “I go to bed!” Honestly, it is hard to decide whether it was her victory or her sacrifice.

Despite the fact that virtually nothing happens in the pilot episode for almost an hour, the viewers witness Don Draper’s frustration, who is struggling to create a new slogan for the “Lucky Strike”. Moreover, the viewer is confidently and steadily dipped into the series’ context, which is achieved through conversations. It is a sexist joke in the elevator, and friendly advice to a brand new employee to show her pretty legs more often. It is a question about “working with the Jews” and gynecologist replica addressed to Peggy; It is real astonishment of the Don Draper that his important client is a woman Rachel Menken, who is smart, independent, and self-standing at the head of the business, All the elements together make a strange and crushing impression on the viewers.

Journal 2: Don Draper Personality

The main character of the series, the creator of the brilliant advertising concepts Donald Draper, in fact, is someone else. Speculation and clues about his identity are scattered throughout the season. Thus,  getting the puzzle together brings additional pleasure from watching the show. The first hint the authors have thrown back in episode #3 “Marriage of Figaro.” A guy on the train called his real name Dick Whitman, and later at the reception, Peggy says that someone named Adam Whitman is waiting for Donald. The intrigue associated with the mysterious past of the main character is a good trick, which becomes a magnet for the viewer. If someone is suddenly bored by the production problems, the new line will tie him/her to the screen.

       Interesting elements of the series include the words about Don’s step-mother, and Pete’s suspicions about the incorrect date of birth (episode “Nixon vs. Kennedy?”). Finally Midge guessed that Draper is acting somebody else. Towards the middle of the series, it becomes clear: the creative director of Sterling Cooper has two sides of his personality and two different lives.

Women of Donald Draper are also the clues to his identity. In fact, Don is not close to his family and has quite formal relationship with Betty. The viewer begins to suspect the complicated relationship in the final of the first series. After his meeting with Rachel, which was full of intellectual flirtation, Donald did not come home. He goes to Greenwich Village to meet his girlfriend Midge Daniels that lives a life without obligations. The episode is a key to understanding that this man has been unhappy for a very long time.

Journal 3: Family and Time Portrait

The events of “The Wheel,” the final episode of the first season, refer to the Day of Thanksgiving. Family holiday for Mad Men characters turn into a day of frustration and life rethinking. The episode title has a double meaning. Firstly, Don says jokingly “Kodak reinvented The Wheel” when discussing a new model, which should work. Secondly, it is the wheel of life and time. There is a small invention, which is a merry-go-round, a carousel that can be a good trademark. Probably, the scene has the key meaning in the series. Carousel takes us in the magical land of imagination or to magical memories, which is technique used by Mary Poppins. 

The series Mad Men is a conceptual reconstruction of one short segment of the 60-ies era in the United States. The movie team has tried to recover the events as accurately as possible, paying attention to the domestic details, behaviors, responses, and lifestyle of characters. Almost everyone who watches Mad Men for the first time exclaims: “How much they are smoking!”

At the same time, the constant smoking and alcohol consumption is not all. An emergence of feminism, a healthy lifestyle, homosexuality, racial issues, political developments, the Cuban crisis and the beginning of the Cold War, the problems of memory and identity, adultery, counterculture, and others. The authors show all aforementioned notions of time. The example tool is advertising, which is intangible, but always present in the life of every American. The advertising industry and its embodiment, Madison Avenue mad men, becomes the mirror of time.

The world of Mad Men looks strange to us, but it is real world. In the center of the mad world is Don Draper, a brilliant advertiser and a great liar.  Hundreds of thousands of TV-viewers, who sat on their virtual carousels, got an opportunity to go back in time half a century. The series becomes a sharp tool for a collective rethinking of some historical periods that are important for the nation. It does not lose its entertainment function through connecting a common past with the private experience. Watching a series gives everyone the opportunity to analyze how people and society have changed, what remains unchanged, and why something is stable.

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