Here's What You Need to Binge on Mad Men and the '60s All Weekend

Illustration for article titled Here's What You Need to Binge on Mad Men and the '60s All Weekend

It’d be hard to argue with the claim that besides all the great characters, and the beautifully written dialogue, the biggest reason Mad Men (coming to a close this Sunday) was a hit was because it was about one our recent favorite decades in American history. Baby boomers, man.


Mad Men was the perfect television program to write about, because it offered up pegs to both plot developments and the time period those things were happening during. The 1960s suddenly came back in a big way (if they had ever gone away), with Banana Republic clothing dealscostume designer Janie Bryant became a star in her own right—and branding opportunities that stretched all the way to Mattel.

Historically, the show was on point; Matthew Weiner’s obsessive attention to detail paid off. As it goes off the air, here’s some light reading/watching on the clothes, the sets and the realism of the sexism that Mad Men portrayed for the fans out there who will miss it all.

The ads

  • Ad Age has a continually updated list of all their posts pertaining to Mad Men, which is a great place for any obsessive to start.
  • There are also dozens of slideshows devoted to some of the best/most cringeworthy ads of the time.
  • From WNYC, on how cigarette advertising changed during this era.
  • “‘Mad Men and the Era that Changed Advertising” at the New York Times explores the industry as a whole, with one executive arguing that the series could technically just keep going until modern times.

The fashion and sets

  • The best place for this stuff is AMC’s YouTube channel, which posts regular videos about how they put together the look for each episode. That being said, there have been many other pieces that touch on Weiner’s “perfectionism” and how his team achieves the Mad Men look. I point you to Tom and Lorenzo’s weekly fashion recaps as the end-all, be-all on this topic.

Anddd the sexism

  • Jan Maas, a woman working in advertising during those halcyon Mad Men days who wrote the book Mad Women, has spoken many times about her experiences then. Myra Janco Daniels penned her own harrowing tale for Chicago magazine, entitled “I Married a Mad Man.”

Image via ABC

Contact the author at



The show is a really different interpretation of the 60’s, though, because Weiner is post-Boomer (generation X?) and his disdain for hippies really taints the viewpoint, in my opinion. He fetishizes this adult-60’s world, then smacks you on the wrist for getting into it when the characters are sexist/racist/etc. But that initial hook of the fascination with the time period is never reconciled with the fact that we should be hating these characters who are all horrible people, caused in part by the uptight constraints of their world, which the hippies Weiner despises were so desperately trying to fight against, effectively or not.