By the time most students graduate Mines, they will have jobs. Alumni will mostly have decent starting salaries and lead a comfortable lifestyle. In a few years there might be a promotion, then a wife, a nice new house, and a family. But what about those who want more than just a mundane existence? What about those who want not just a promotion but to own a company? Or maybe go out with the girl they were too nerdy for in high school? And own a mansion with so many bedrooms that it looks more like hotel? That is how the other half lives. They live like they have nothing to lose but the world to gain. That is what the show Mad Men is all about. How does the other half live? Or rather, how did they live?
The show is set in the 1960’s when high power executives working on Madison Avenue, NY, were referred to as Mad Men. The show follows Donald Draper, played by actor Jon Hamm, and his lifestyle. There are two components to Don Draper’s complicated life. The first is his work, the second is his personal life. His work takes priority above all though, as he is the Senior Creative Director of an advertising firm called Sterling Cooper. Throughout the show, it is shown that clients value his work because of its superiority. Those working along him are Peggy Olsen, his secretary, Roger Sterling, a partner of the company, Pete Cambell, a young Account Manager, and Joan Holloway, the head secretary of the office. There is drama from all edges of the map in the office, ranging from affairs to business complications, and Don has a part in all of it.
However, like most hard working Americans, Don Draper has a life outside the office. It starts in “The Village,” the heart of the New York’s young ideas where art and music flow through the streets which are filled with quite literally, starving artists. Draper and one of these artists, a woman named Midge Daniels, are shown to be having an intimate relationship in the opening episode of the show. This relationship helps the viewer learn about Don’s personality as the show progresses.
Mad Men is a show about personalities. It is about how people at the top of the social ladder interact. What they value in life is what we dream about having. What they do not have are the things we take for granted. Donald Draper is one of us, a common man thrust into high society. The show teaches the viewers how to live life in that society, and to appear accustomed and used to money, fancy cars, beautiful people at every corner of the office, and most of all, chaos.