There's few shows on television packing as much punch as AMC's Mad Men. On the surface of things, the concept couldn't be more dull: Madison Avenue advertising men pitching campaigns in the 60's. But Joel's pitch to me when he first saw it soaks up every background element of the show and defines it into a formula:
There's plenty to criticize about the show, but for me it's cut-to-fit: gorgeous, full-bodied women in painted-on dresses; whisky by the barrel, cigarettes by the carton, a steak on every plate; men's formal fashion at the turn of its last great change, affording older men to wear worsted three pieces and young bucks to sport skinny ties and sharkskin; a look at the office of the career man; swingin' New York, half beat poets and half modern opulence; all predicated with seething, soaking dissatisfaction for the post-war utopia they're living in. I'm not sure its message is terribly profound, but it is mid-century pornography that appeals to nearly all my sensibilities.
Where Joel is wrong is that the message can be terribly profound. This scene — in which ad man Donald Draper pitches a campaign to a toe-dipping Kodak Co. for their new line of "wheel projectors" — is devastating in its poignancy.
"This isn't a space ship... it's a time machine." Go watch Mad Men.
Mad Men: The Carousel [YouTube]