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Return of the Mad Men (and Women)


Published August 13, 2008 at 4:11 p.m.

I know many of us journalism types shun TV except for news and "The Wire." (I have plans to catch up on that one!) But I can't resist pointing out that one of my can't-miss shows is back for a second season (as of July 27), and it's dealing with some issues that seem oddly relevant to us in media today.

Odd because "Mad Men" is set in the early '60s, back when men were men and smoked and drank as if it were a championship sport, and women... pretty much did the same, but in pretty clothes. Series creator Matthew Weiner wasn't there any more than I was, so I don't know if his depiction is accurate, but it's a lot of fun.

Anyway, the relevant part: "Mad Men" is about the world of advertising in that era (Madison Avenue ad men... get it?), which was undergoing seismic shifts as the '60s got in gear and the boomers started flexing their buying muscles. In the first episode of this season, the ad agency enlisted a couple of twentysomething freelancers to help them with a campaign to persuade their generation to drink coffee. (No one had thought of Starbucks yet.) There's tons of unspoken tension between the guys in suits -- who are only in their thirties -- and the kids with their slang and collegiate gear. Nowadays of course the generational divide isn't so deep, but print media and advertisers are still struggling to keep up with those darned kids. Do the '60s have anything to teach us... besides the fact that five-martini lunches, broken elevators and high-powered business meetings don't mix?

"Mad Men" is on AMC Sundays at 10-- and the first season is available on DVD from Waterfront Video!