Mad Men – A Lesson in Details


After watching every episode of Mythbusters on Netflix (although they don’t have every episode from every season on there, which makes me mad), I was looking for something new to watch. My wife and I watch a lot of shows on Netflix together, so I had to find something else to watch. No big deal. I looked for Boardwalk Empire, as I’ve currently taken a huge interest in noir and that era, I thought it would be perfect inspiration. I guess it takes place during the prohibition in the 1920s. Mobsters, suits, “Tommy guns” and all that not only sounds awesome, but it would certainly teach me a lot about that time period. But, alas, they don’t have Boardwalk Empire on Netflix. However, they recommended Mad Men to me. I’d heard of it, and some of the actors in that show were also characters in Rockstar’s game L.A. Noire, which got me hooked on the noir genre in the first place. So, I figured I’d give it a try. A marketing agency in the ’60s sounded awesome enough, and it has won three Grammys. What’s not to love?

I was hooked from the first episode. The characters are thought out and deep, and the setting is so well done and realistic. They’re not afraid to pour on the realism. One of the first things that really hooked me was a bit of dialogue.

“Have we ever hired any Jews?”

“Not on my watch.”

Offensive? Yes. But, that’s how it was. The clothes, the cars, the beer, everything is period correct–as far as I know, anyway–and just blends in as part of the story. And everyone smokes all the time. They’re not obviously trying to point out “HEY! LOOK HOW MUCH WE GOT RIGHT!”

Also, during one scene, some of the characters were at a bachelor party, and there happened to be a stripper on stage. It was excellent to see they chose someone who wasn’t some stick model. I don’t want to dive to deeply into this to avoid some confrontation, but she was a “normal-sized” woman, if you know what I mean. She was healthy, and it was great to see.

It really makes me consider this type of stuff for my own writing. To see how they blend everything together. It just makes me think how I can include details like this to pour on the realism in my books. To really set the scene and draw the reader in. I’ve been trying to include more details in my writing, as I’ve been told I write a bit like Hemmingway. I tell what happened, who said what, and that’s about it. And that’s fine, of course, but sometimes I want to really try and dazzle with details and write a rich, full story that can really captivate. I mean, that’s possible with any type of writing if done right. But, there’s just something about being able to really show a setting that I really like, and I strive to emulate that.

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One thought on “Mad Men – A Lesson in Details

  1. Dude! We love Mad Men! We even bought every season on BluRay for ourselves around Christmas.

    From a writer’s standpoint, there is much to learn from this show, especially for those of us who like to flirt with historical settings. Awesome everything that hooks us right in from the get-go.

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