From the BBC’s Adam Curtis:

In Mad Men we watch a group of people who live in a prosperous society that offers happiness and order like never before in history and yet are full of anxiety and unease. They feel there is something more, something beyond. And they feel stuck.

I think we are fascinated because we have a lurking feeling that we are living in a very similar time. A time that, despite all the great forces of history whirling around in the world outside, somehow feels stuck. And above all has no real vision of the future.

And as we watch the group of characters from 50 years ago, we get reassurance because we know that they are on the edge of a vast change that will transform their world and lead them out of their stifling technocratic order and back into the giant onrush of history.

The question is whether we might be at a similar point, waiting for something to happen. But we have no idea what it is going to be.

Curtis talks here about Rosser Reeves, at least one of the real-life people who goes into Don Draper, and the model of advertising he represented, as against the more social-scientific, psychological version that was sweeping over Madison Avenue in the 1960s. He’s also got a discussion of Shirley Polykoff, some of whom is in Peggy Olsen. And there’s some terrific video of these people talking about the business of advertising, if you have the time.

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