De­tails make ad world so real

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Front Page - RICK KUSH­MAN

THERE’S more than sim­ple at­ten­tion to de­tail on the set of Mad Men. There’s an af­fec­tion for all the tiny, ex­act­ing touches that make the set and the show not only a jour­ney back­wards, but a lay­ered tale about Amer­ica and its cul­ture.

The liv­ing room of the Draper house­hold, the home of ad­ver­tis­ing man Don Draper (played by Jon Hamm) and his fam­ily, is ‘‘Drexel Her­itage’’ circa 1960, as the pro­duc­ers de­scribe it. With semi-dark wood, mild greens and ab­stract-but­b­land art on the walls, it’s slightly or­nate, slightly mod­ern and slightly ster­ile.

‘‘It is what rich peo­ple had,’’ cre­ator Matthew Weiner says.

‘‘It’s not too stylish, not all co­or­di­nated, and the kids weren’t al­lowed in the room.’’

All the de­tails that go into this set help to flesh out the char­ac­ters. Best of all is the White Room, a long, large pro­duc­tion space where each char­ac­ter’s clothes and style are deftly and in­tri­cately detailed.

That tells you much about Mad Men and ex­plains why the show earned 16 Emmy nom­i­na­tions this year.

Mad Men, cen­tred on the peo­ple and the mores of Madi­son Ave more than 40 years ago, is not only a pe­riod piece or a throw­back drama. It’s a lit­er­ary, lay­ered story of peo­ple liv­ing with, and push­ing against, the rules of so­ci­ety and their own com­pli­cated na­tures. And it’s as much about 2008 as it is the 1960s, if you care to look that deep.

It’s also hyp­not­i­cally en­ter­tain­ing be­cause of all that dead-on de­tail, and be­cause of the nim­ble writ­ing and sto­ry­telling, the line-up of ab­sorb­ing char­ac­ters, the sub­tle and pow­er­ful act­ing and, of course, its at­mo­spheric cool.

De­spite the nu­anced plot lines, sea­son two re­mains a good start­ing point for view­ers who have not seen the show.

The sec­ond sea­son opened on Valen­tine’s Day, 1962, 14 months af­ter last sea­son ended with Draper (Jon Hamm) fac­ing in­creas­ing prob­lems in his home life de­spite his fam­ily-ori­ented ad cam­paigns, and shortly af­ter Peggy (Elis­a­beth Moss) gave birth.

Weiner says much has hap­pened in those months, and the peo­ple in Mad Men (and view­ers, too) will spend a few episodes learn­ing what occurred.

‘‘Trust me,’’ he says, ‘‘and I’ll give you in­for­ma­tion as you need it in the most en­ter­tain­ing fash­ion.’’

He chose this short time leap be­cause, as Weiner says, change is grad­ual, not sud­den, and this move puts the group, and Amer­ica, in a dif­fer­ent cul­tural place.

‘‘Though 1962 was a peace­ful, op­ti­mistic time, the world was chang­ing,’’ he says. ‘‘It’s a time in Amer­i­can cul­ture that’s be­come ide­alised.’’

Mad for it:

Christina Hen­dricks and Jon Hamm in sea­son two of Mad Men.

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