AFTER seven series of sharp suits and pencil skirts, the offices of Sterling Cooper & Partners (SC&P) are closing for good, and Mad Men is taking a final bow from screens.
Set in the hubbub of a cut-throat New York advertising firm during the 1950s and 1960s, the drama has launched careers, influenced fashion, and given the murky world of advertising a new cool.
At the centre of all this is Don Draper, played by Jon Hamm. He’s a womanising, arrogant advertising executive, but because of the show’s nuanced writing he’s held fans’ sympathy throughout.
The cast haven’t let anything slip about what the second-half of the final series holds in store. Even the decade it’s set in has been kept hush-hush.
It’s rumoured the story will pick up where the first-half, which aired last year, ended — with the firm on the verge of a lucrative new deal.
We’ll have to wait and see. But first, with stylish hankies and consolatory Old Fashioned cocktails at the ready, here’s a look at some of the things we’ll miss most about Mad Men...
Take a look at Jon Hamm’s CV pre-2007 and, well, it’s the ‘gorgeous guy at the bar’ in Ally McBeal and the ‘young pilot £2’ in Space Cowboys.
Once 2007 comes along, though, things change; for Hamm, Mad Men is what those in the business call ‘a turning point’.
Like Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston, who also found greater acclaim later in his career, Hamm may have come late to the party, but what a way to arrive.
Mad Men gave Hamm a chance to step out from the sidelines and take centre stage. Hooray for that.
It wouldn’t do for Don Draper to turn up to work in an off-the-peg shiny suit and gimmicky tie. Nor would the impeccable Joan (Christina Hendricks) head in for her 9am meeting in a holey old cardigan with dried egg on the sleeve.
Regardless of seniority and age, the SC&P crew’s universally dapper style is the perfect antidote to the swathes of reality stars slopping about in pyjamas and UGG boots on telly.
No wonder Mad Men inspired a fashion line in Banana Republic, and hoards of women dug out those calf-length pencil skirts and vintage blouses.
Like the outfits, the Mad Men sets — with their bijou drinks cabinets, bold reclining chairs and funky sofas — are also highly likely to leave us drooling over our screens.
Many of the cast apparently took mementos with them when the final ‘cut’ was called on the series.
“I was given a couple of nice things from the set,”says Hamm. “One was Don’s chair from the apartment, and the other thing was a little sign which sits above the computer in the office, which says, ‘Think’.
Both of those things are very prominently displayed in my life... It’s important to think!”
Many TV writers and actors like to claim their shows are not just ‘black and white’, that the drama is about the moral ‘grey areas’ — but few actually achieve this nuanced balance. Mad Men is one that does.
Sometimes, the characters say or behave downright offensively. Sometimes, they do terrible things and don’t face any consequences for their actions.
And, sometimes, they do good things and are not rewarded for them. Basically, it’s like life. Only more stylish.
Very few of us could get away with sauntering into a meeting, tumbler of Old Fashioned in hand, and deliver a pitch-perfect presentation.
But in Mad Men, downing a whisky or a cocktail in the office is de rigueur. We’ll drink to that.
You won’t find explosions, fireworks or mass killings in Mad Men. In fact, sometimes you might be hard pressed to remember what has actually happened in an episode.
Rather than go all out with thunderous plots, creator Matthew Weiner focuses, instead, on fleshing out characters and nailing those zippy retorts from social-climbing copywriters — and it’s all the better for it.
Like The Sopranos and The Wire before it, so much love and labour has been poured into Mad Men that it feels cinematic.
In a world of 30-second clips and grainy footage, it feels like luxurious viewing.
Here’s hoping it inspires the next generation of cleverly crafted small-screen dramas.
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