Monday, April 6, 2015

The Following Message Has Been Sponsored By Sterling Cooper & Partners

[Don Draper poster - Sweet Christmas gift from the brother.]

When sitting down to watch an episode of Scandal, a certain level of ridiculous drama is expected. Someone getting their throat slashed completely out of the blue? Oh, that's just a regular occurrence in the lives of Olivia Pope and associates. Moments like these are definitely wacky and silly, which also makes for some gasp worthy and/or laughable television.

That surprise death at the hands of a main character (who is a serious wild card) happened on the show recently. Making that scene even better was that the dearly departed woman was played by random guest star Lena Dunham, acting beneath the wiggiest of wigs that has ever been present on primetime television.

Based on all of the above, it is completely understandable why "TGIT" has become a ratings smash every week. After all, according to commercials, Scandal put the "O" in the "Oval Office" (an example of ABC's so bad its good marketing, reminiscent of Revenge's advertised "love rhombus"). Really, it has put the "G" in guilty - guilty pleasure, if you catch my drift.

We've all got those shows that keep us tuning in just for the mere drama of it all. Scandal has become mine. Every week I try to kick it out of my jam packed watching schedule and then somehow I still end up amongst Fitz and the gang, because I can't stand the thought of missing any bonkers moments.

However, a show like Scandal could leave people hankering for more. Something that focuses on a different kind of drama - the real life sorts of dramas that fill all of our lives. The stories of seeking fulfillment, or searching for creative strengths, or even, questioning love, family, and what "it" all means. There is only one show that is delving into all of these thoughts and more - Mad Men - and it's all done stylishly set amongst the hectic time of the 1960s.

In the summer of 2009, Netflix instant streaming had finally become a better service (Remember when you could only stream a certain number of hours each month? Those are the dark ages now!). It offered many  television shows that, being an avid follower of awards shows and critics reviews, I had read about, but didn't have time to watch while I was frantically finishing college. Alas, people still blame me for the Pushing Daisies cancellation.

That summer, being unemployed with more time on my hands than I'd had in my adult life, I started, what people were beginning to call "binging", a couple of these shows. Very soon after starting, I could not get enough of the lives of a serial killer, a coach, and an ad man with a secret past - or Dexter, Friday Night Lights and, of course, Mad Men.

After spending my young adult life predominately watching reality shows, sitcoms, TGIF, and NBC comedies with my friends, being introduced to a show like Mad Men was very eye opening. At the beginning, I didn't know that this was what a TV show could look like or even be about. Up to that point, to me, a TV drama really only meant ER and Lost. 

To be honest, I felt / still feel pretty adult and sophisticated for adoring Mad Men. I was growing up and the television I was watching, apparently, was too.

[Realness in the form of a vintage ad from the Mad Men era.]

The old days were gone, and now that I was getting really into Mad Men, it helped me appreciate the nuance of TV writing. Before watching this show, I knew that The Office and 30 Rock were hysterical, and I spent many a night in college discussing the eventful plot twists on Lost. It was ultimately all surface discussion though and I never really gave much thought about how the episodes were actually written.  

Other shows with large casts face many writing challenges and end up taking crazy plot twists that majorly jump the shark (is that term still overused? Don't matter). The writers of Mad Men have always valued a well told story above anything else, so bring on even more characters, the show will still be solid. It helps that Mad Men never had to change or provide epic deaths (like The Walking Dead) in order to keep a larger audience happy. AMC just let the show be what it was and while it may not be a big money maker, its top notch quality will make it adored for years.

Seeing that Mad Men has been able to deeply delve into many character's lives and deliver quality story progression season after season, I can't help but nitpick if others shows write nonsensical stories. It's difficult to not become annoyed if the writing seems lazy, especially when you know how good things are capable of being.

But it hasn't just been the writing or quality stories that make Mad Men one of the best shows that TV has to offer, it's also about the immense set of characters you love and hate that all live amidst the vast world created by Matthew Weiner . There's Roger Sterling's charisma, Joan's tenaciousness, Peggy's cool ambition, creepy Pete, Ted looking good while flying planes, Sally's style and grace growing up amongst her parents who are lost and confused, Betty carting around a shotgun, and Don, who could knock your socks off just doing a presentation.

Those socks in the newest episodes could be covered by bell-bottoms, since the series has reached the 1970s. Mad Men has always been so immersive in its time period, making sure that all the clothes and sets are impeccably accurate.

Loving this show changed the way I watched television and it definitely had a way of enriching my style over the years. I know I'm not the only one who tunes in for the costumes and set design just as much as for the stories and Jon Hamm.

As the show's 10:00 PM air time is a little late for this early riser, I have yet to watch the new episode that kicked off last night. It's only slightly driving me crazy. Still, since we're on the topic of admiring sets and costumes, and in honor of Mad Men's return, I present just a few props/costumes that I have deeply coveted from the series (so far).

Let's be honest - this is mostly about Peggy and Joan. 

Peggy's Painting

That ever so perfectly has been hanging in her office, because she's a bitchin' boss lady. 

Joan's Necklace

Any fan knows that this pen necklace is the most coveted of all Mad Men accessories.

Put A Pin In It

But that necklace is only one notch above this delightful daisy pin that Elisabeth Moss was rocking in last year's promotional ads.

Peacock Print

The Sterling Cooper & Partner's office has tons of cool swag.


Yes, I'm about to write a sentence that's an ode to a turtleneck. There is a lot of notable fashion throughout the series, but this cute, casual top (can't believe I'm saying that about a turtleneck) stands out because it marks the turn when Peggy is FINALLY allowed to be stylish.

Office Flare

I've spent far too long online pining over vintage sets of chairs that look exactly like these two gems. Let's just say, they are a bit out of my price range.

After the final seven episodes of Mad Men air, a ton about this show will be missed. But we're not saying our goodbyes yet. There are still memorable stories to be told, characters to fawn over, and new dazzling style to admire. Let's soak it all up, because what a world to enjoy.

For all fans, i'll be trying my hand at episode reviews that should be posted every Wednesday.

Let's go Mad. 

Until next time!

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