In Sunday’s New York Times magazine, Alex Witchel looked at the AMC network’s retro hit Mad Men, which begins its second season on July 27. We confess that we watch each episode twice, once with the sound on and then again on mute, so as to better contemplate the stellar sets, vintage props, and bold-hued womenswear (kudos, costume designer Janie Bryant). But we’re not sure if series creator Matthew Weiner would approve of our approach. “The design is not the star of the show,” he tells Witchel. “I don’t want to be distracted by it.”
Witchel’s piece examines how Mad Men depicts the advertising world of the early 1960s, psychoanalyzes Weiner (perhaps he eschews on-the-nose writing because of “the lack of direct communication with his parents”?), and surveys some Madison Avenue veterans on how life at Sterling Cooper (the show’s fictional ad agency) measures up to the reality as they remember it. Famed art director George Lois is not amused. Read on for his wrath.
When I hear Mad Men, it’s the most irritating thing in the world to me. When you think of the ’60s, you think about people like me who changed the advertising and design worlds. The creative revolution was the name of the game. This show gives you the impression it was all three-martini lunches….We worked from 5:30 in the morning until 10 at night. We had three women copywriters. We didn’t bed secretaries. I introduced Xerox. It was hard, hard work and no nonsense. Mad Men is typical of The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, those phony S.O.B.’s.
We hope Weiner was listening, because Lois’s line, “When you think of the ’60s, you think about people like me…” would be perfect coming out of the mouth of a wizened yet still distinguished-looking Don Draper in the 21st-century flash-forward series finale.