Mad Men - Season 1
The debut season of Matthew Weiner's intense and stylish drama follows the lives of Madison Avenue advertising executives (so-called "Mad Men") in 1960. The series centers on Don Draper (Jon Hamm), the dashing and brilliant creative director for ad agency Sterling Cooper (Season 1 accounts include Richard Nixon's presidential campaign and, appropriately, Lucky Strike, given the cigarettes are smoked in nearly every scene). Don's charms extend well outside of the boardroom and into the bedroom: The married man has a free-spirited lover, Midge Daniels (Rosemarie DeWitt), who's his polar opposite, and a second mistress, Rachel Menken (Maggie Siff), a client whose independence challenges Don's views on women. Don's wife, Betty (January Jones), meanwhile, dutifully fulfills her role as housewife. But when she develops a mysterious ailment that causes her to lose feeling in her hands, she's sent to a psychiatrist to work through her problems. Over at Sterling Cooper, new secretary Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) tries to adjust to life in the boys club with guidance from seen-it-all bombshell secretary Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks). Young account exec Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) also has his eyes on Peggy and quickly begins pursuing her, despite his upcoming nuptials. There's even more bad behavior at the office from skirt chasers Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton) and Paul Kinsey (Michael Gladis), loving but imperfect Harry Crane (Rich Sommer) and stuck-in-the-closet art director Sal Romano (Bryan Batt). Partner Roger Sterling (John Slattery) does little to set an example for his employees as he happily indulges in an array of vices and an affair with Joan. Senior partner Bertram Cooper (Robert Morse) is mostly out of touch with the staff, preferring to remain within the sanctuary of his giant office. In the midst of this workplace frivolity, Don learns that the picture-perfect life he's created for himself could be threatened by a secret from his past.A rare original dramatic offering from cable channel AMC, the weekly series Mad Men was the story of a major advertising agency operating from New York's Madison Avenue in 1960. The most successful ad executive at the Sterling Cooper Agency was handsome, indefatigable Don Draper (Jon Hamm), who was not only expert at "playing the game" while servicing accounts ranging from cigarette manufacturers to political candidates, but was also an accomplished ladies' man, frequently and shamelessly dipping deep into the agency's all-female secretarial pool. It was crucial for Draper to always be at the top of his professional form: there were scores of hungry young executives who were eager to topple him from his perch and become Sterling Cooper's new top dog. The series evoked the manners and mores of the early sixties with pinpoint accuracy: the advertising business, like practically every other business, was completely male-dominated, with an overabundance of WASPs, a minimum of Jews, and virtually no other minority anywhere in sight; women were second-class citizens and sex objects, expected to be both subservient and "available"; honesty and integrity were merely words in the dictionary; and everybody drank and smoked to excess (indeed, so many cigarettes were lit up in the course of each episode that a number of TV critics were "turned off" by the show, undoubtedly preferring that historical fact be subordinated to contemporary political correctness). Others in the the cast included John Slattery as agency CEO Roger Sterling; Elisabeth Moss as wide-eyed novice secretary Peggy Olson; Christina Hendricks as wordly-wise head secretary Joan Holloway; Vincent Kartheiser as Don Draper's sharkishly ambitious protegee Pete Campbell; and Maggie Stiff as Rachel Menken, a source of anger and confusion to the Mad Avenue Macho Males not only because she was the executive in charge of a major department store (and Jewish in the bargain!), but also because she refused to let any mere ad man tell her how to promote her business. Created by The Sopranos' Matthew Weiner, Mad Men was unveiled by AMC on July 19, 2007.