Synopsis by Hal Erickson
A rare original dramatic offering from cable's American Movie Channel, 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. 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 '60s 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 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 protégé Pete Campbell; and Maggie Siff as Rachel Menken, a source of anger and confusion to the Madison 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 adman tell her how to promote her business. Created by The Sopranos' Matthew Weiner, Mad Men was unveiled by AMC on July 19, 2007.