Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Mad Men


It’s 1960, and men are still men, by golly! Well … actually men are pigs, as we still are today, the difference being that back then there was absolutely no reason to pretend that we were not pigs, as who in the world was going to call us on it? Not women, who were subservient by necessity. The most they might do was slap a wandering hand, and laugh about it, because they understood that their best path (often the only path) to a good life was to land a husband with plenty of money. Gloria Steinem was twenty-six. (Soon to take a job as a Playboy bunny.) Germaine Greer was twenty-one. Feminism? What the hell is that?

But The Pill had just become available, if you could convince your pig gynecologist (who was already convinced you were a whore just for asking) that it wouldn’t turn you into a promiscuous slut. And that was soon going to change everything …

I was thirteen, in the seventh grade. Like all the men on this show, I larded my hair with tonic. My choice was Wildroot Cream-Oil, Charlie, because it was made with soothing lanolin, and I would have a tough time keeping all those gals away. (Actually, it wasn’t hard at all.) Maybe I should have done as some of my classmates did and used Brylcreem, because a little dab’ll do ya, and the gals’ll all pursue ya ‘cause they’ll love to run their fingers through your hair. Or one could use Vitalis and eschew that greasy kid stuff.

What a difference fifty-five years has made! Everybody smoked, and the list of places where you could not smoke was much, much shorter than places where you could. Stores? Light ‘em up! Elevators? No problem! Meetings, taxis, baseball games, movie theaters? Sure, and here’s an ash tray. They might ask you to put them out in church, but that was about it.

Women did horrible things to their hair (well, different from the horrible things they do today) and wore girdles that tried to make them look like Tinkerbell, or that new Barbie doll, or some other fantasy figure. Cars had totally useless tail fins, and manufacturers boasted about how long and wide they were, way too long for today’s parking spaces. Your typical 1960s hunk of Detroit iron could go 120 mph without breaking a sweat. Far from having child restraint seats and air bags, they didn’t even have seat belts! Children rode standing up in the back seats. How the hell did we survive?

Cigarettes were endorsed by doctors, and sold on the premise that they soothed the throat, helped with digestion, and that there was not a cough in a carload! Pick me up and smoke me sometime! Come to where the flavor is! You get a lot to like! But Reader’s Digest had just come out with a story that ventures to say they may actually be killing you …

Don Draper is unfortunate enough to have the Lucky Strike account just as they are learning that they can no longer tout the health benefits of tobacco. He is faced with the problem of making people want to use a deadly poison, and he doesn’t quite know where to go with it. How do you get them to prefer Luckies to Old Gold, or Parliament, or Camels? Would you walk a mile for a Lucky Strike?

This is in the first episode, all we have seen so far. We picked up a DVD set of the first season because this show has been critically acclaimed for many years now, and in fact just two months ago aired the final show of the seventh season. We prefer to watch a show this way. The first one was quite good enough for us to go on with it. We are looking forward to it.