Mad Men

AMC (ended 2015)




  • Season 1 Episode 1: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

  • Plates of shrimp cocktail can be seen on the table during Sterling, Draper, and Campbell's meeting with Rachel Menken. The ad men's ineptitude in relating to their Jewish client extends even to their non-kosher food selection.

  • Music: "Band of Gold" (Don Cherry,) "Caravan" (Gordon Jenkins,) "Shangri-La" (Robert Maxwell and His Orchestra,) "The Street Where You Live" (Vic Damone).

    The favored type of music for this era was called "Easy Listening." It featured orchestrations emphasizing string instruments, as well as the piano or the organ, and often had rhythms suitable for dancing. Among the best known artists of the era were Montovani, Ferrante and Teicher, The Living Strings, and of course, Lawrence Welk. There were some vocalists, such as Edie Gorme, Vic Damone and Andy Williams who fit the genre, but most vocals came from groups of singers who accompanied the orchestra, such as the Ray Conniff Singers.

    "The Street Where You Live" is from the musical My Fair Lady. In March, 1960, when this episode is set, My Fair Lady would have been entering its fourth year on Broadway, where it eventually ran for 2,717 performances, the longest running musical of its time. Use of this song is a reflection of the popularity of music coming from Broadway; film version would not be produced for another four years.

  • The program makes a small historical error in the scene where Peggy first sees her typewriter, an IBM Selectric II. The IBM Selectric Typewriter featuring a ball-element, that made the type bar and moving platen unnecessary was first released in 1961. The first Selectric II, which Joan assures Peggy is so easy a woman can use it, was not released until 1971. Later in the episode, Don comments about the availability of a "magic machine" that makes identical copies of documents. Although Xerox had released its first photocopier in late 1959, it probably would not have been widely available and probably not well known in March, 1960, when this episode is set.

    The bolded part needs to be taken out. When Don mentions the "magic machine", the writers were being ironic because he says, "It's not like there's some magic machine that makes identical copies of things." So, clearly, Don has no idea that Xerox exists yet, and there's no time period goof that needs mentioning here.

  • Peggy is given a prescription for the contraceptive Enovid by the doctor Joan refers her to in this episode. At the time, she would have needed to know a doctor willing to prescribe them for that purpose, for which they had not yet been approved. Birth control was a highly controversial subject at the time, and it was difficult for researchers to obtain funding needed to develop safe and effective methods of contraception.

    Enovid, developed by Searle Laboratories, was the first oral contraceptive approved by the FDA. In 1959, Enovid had been extensively tested as a birth control pill, but was only approved for relief of "menstrual disorders." Not surprisingly, by the end of the year over 1/2 million American women had 'developed' these disorders and were taking Enovid off-label for contraceptive purposes. Enovid was finally approved by the FDA as an oral contraceptive in May, 1960.

    The Pilot, when Peggy gets the prescription takes place in May 1960.

  • The heavy smoking seen in this episode is striking by today's standards, but appropriate to the period. Cigarette smoking, although common before the war, became widely accepted for both genders in the post-WWII era when millions of American men who learned to smoke courtesy of cigarettes placed in Red Cross care packages returned home. By the mid 50's, over half of all men and nearly 1/3 of women smoked, and there were few, if any restrictions on where they could do so.

    In the mid-50s, cigarette manufacturers were prohibited from making health claims, such as benefits to the figure advertised by L&M. By 1960, health warnings about the dangers of smoking had begun to circulate, most notably the Reader's Digest article "The Growing Horror of Lung Cancer", and nearly 7000 empirical articles linking smoking to a range of pulmonary diseases including cancer had been published in the medical literature, presenting advertisers with the problem we see Don tackle.

  • As the men enter the elevator, they all take their hats off. Men regularly took their hats off when they came indoors, but also when there was a woman in attendance. Either reason would've been appropriate for the time.

  • In the doctor's office scene, we see the doctor do a pelvic exam with no nurse in attendance. This is now standard operating procedure, but not as common at the time of this episode.

  • Don's office is shown to us and is clearly a corner office. The corner office is often the prime office space in a company. Most often, it's a bigger office with more windows for better views of the city, a perk for an executive.

  • Midge mentions that she's working on a newly invented "Grandmothers' Day" job. Actually, in 1978 President Carter designated Grandparents' Day to be celebrated the first Sunday after Labor Day.

    This does, however, represent advertising's influence in promoting new holidays. The greeting card business is extremely profitable.

  • Menken's Department Store, for whom Sterling Cooper builds its poorly received ad campaign, is probably modeled on Bergdorf Goodman, a high-end New York department store facing a major slump as it entered the 1960's. The store, which marketed itself to wealthy New Yorkers, struggled through the 1960's and 70's until it reinvented itself in the mid-80's. Now owned by Neiman-Marcus, it remains open on New York's Fifth Ave. to this day.

  • Among the recommendations for advertising Menken's Department Store was a spot advertisement on the "Danny Thomas Show". "The Danny Thomas Show" (later "Make Room for Daddy") was one of a number of comedies focused on traditional middle-class family life popular in the late 1950's and early 1960's. Choice of that particular show, along with the use of in-store coupons, was part of Sterling Cooper's efforts to market the upscale store to the average housewife.

  • In several scenes, we hear Polynesian-themed music and see Polynesian motifs, most notably in the scene where Don meets Maggie for a drink. Following Hawaii's admission to the union in August, 1959, America's burgeoning post-war interest in Hawaiian music, food and drinks flourished and spread east. This led to the popularization of such iconic drinks as the mai-tai we see Maggie drinking, and the pu-pu platter carried by the waiter, as famous west-coast "tiki" bar/restaurants such as Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic's saw tremendous growth in business, and numerous immitators.

  • Near the end of the episode, we see Don on a train going home. He disembarks at the Ossining, NY station. Typically, although young single men lived in Manhattan, married businessmen of this era worked in New York City, but lived in the suburbs of upstate New York or Connecticut, commuting to the city on the train.

  • In this pilot episode, the creator Matthew Weiner reinvents how the slogan for Lucky Strike cigarettes was invented. Originally, the slogan "It's Toasted" appeared in 1917, not in 1960.

  • Season 1 Episode 2: Ladies Room

  • Music during the closing credits: The Cardigans - "The Great Divide"

  • Peggy's weekly paycheck of $35 is roughly equivalent to $260 in 2008 dollars. Her being taxed almost seven dollars for social security seems a bit much for the time period. However she fails to mention any income tax withheld, which is accurate as most working class Americans did not earn enough to pay Federal income tax.

  • Vincent Kartheiser is credited as appearing in this episode, but doesn't make an appearance in it.

  • Robert Morse, who guest stars as Burt Cooper, won a Tony for his role in the 1961 musical "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." Morse played J. Pierpont Finch, an eager window washer determined to get to the top in the New York business world with the help of a book that gives the show its name. Providing moral support, and romance, is loyal secretary Rosemary. Morse later went on to star in the 1967 film adaptation of the musical.

  • Season 1 Episode 3: Marriage of Figaro

  • Volkswagen ran ads in the early 60's for the VW Beetle labeled the "Think Small" campaign. The VW ads had a great impact in magazine advertisements with no adornment, no flash, no models and plain looking Beetles. The effect was astounding. Even to this day, Madison Avenue still gives credit to the campaign as a classic clever motivator.
    Doyle Dane Bernbach was the ad agency given credit for a creating simple sales pitch, black and white product photos and starting a brand ID and loyalty. William Bernbach of DDB is mentioned as the creative leader for this series of ads that ran for several years. Also mentioned for the "Think Small" tag is famous ad man George Lois who designed many iconic ad campaigns over the years and created many of the provocative Esquire Magazine covers of the 1960s.
    Little mentioned about the success of the VW Beetle was the low price, easy maintenance and gas mileage in a time of big cars and Cadillac fins

  • (the men in the office refer to Rachel as "Molly Goldberg.")

    Gertrude Berg wrote and produced "Molly Goldberg" and portrayed her on the radio starting in 1929. The Goldbergs were a hardworking, loving, Jewish family and the program showed their everyday lives and struggles. "The Goldbergs" was broadcast for 17 years. The show was then picked up for television by CBS in 1949 and then to went NBC in 1952. After several incarnations with different actors, formats and networks it left the air in 1955.

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visually striking, womanizers, Historical, Love & Romance, infidelity