Good Luck at Your Next Meeting
As Mad Men begins its final run this Sunday, April 5th, I thought I’d recap some of my favorite moments from the show. Whether or not you’re a fan of the show, its cultural impact is undeniable. The show is so visually pleasing that it’s an absolute must-watch for anyone in the design and advertising industries. From Don’s masterful pitches to boozin’ Sundays at the Draper residence, here are some of the moments that stuck out in the series run:
1. Don’s Carousel Pitch for Kodak
Season 1, Episode 13
For the first season finale, Mad Men delivered with the pitch for Kodak‘s carousel slide machine. I remember watching this pitch and knowing that Don was ultimately going to rename the Kodak device (pitched by the company as “the wheel”) “The Carousel”. Attending art school in the early 2000s made me super-familiar with the slide projector. In his pitch, Don brilliantly connects the clunky, mechanical device to the concept of nostalgia—
This device isn’t a spaceship; it’s a time machine. It takes us to a place where we ache to go again.
And… cue Harry’s crying! By the way, what the hell happened to Harry? He was such a sweetheart in the first season and now he’s a slimy creep with big sideburns.
I also have to give it up to Herman “Duck” Phillips with his total baller moment at the end of the meeting when he simply turns to the Kodak execs and says, “Good luck at your next meeting.” I’ve officially added saying “Good luck at your next meeting” to my bucket list!
2. Day Drinkin’
Season 2, Episode 4
Mad Men is full of day drinking, or as my Mom refers to it—going to an afternoon jam session (don’t ask). It’s difficult for any drinking on this show to stand out, but the episode “Three Sundays” features an eight-year-old Sally Draper making the strongest Bloody Marys ever! Shown below, the cocktail is basically one glass of vodka with a splash of tomato juice.
This epic day of drinking ends with Don & Betty completely incapacitated and their kids having gone without dinner. For the record, I do not drink Bloody Marys; I’m more of a Mimosa gal.
I don’t know how any of the characters on this show are able to drink those amounts and be productive. I guess I need to let go and give into the fantasy of the show? We’re not usually* drinking during the 9 to 5 hours, but every once in awhile a long client lunch will lead to happy hour cocktails and a 7pm nap.
3. Don Gives it to Jantzen
Season 4, Episode 1
In this episode, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce pitches for Jantzen and it does not go well. The ad proposed is a bold angle for the swimwear company and when the company execs react by asking for a more wholesome campaign, Don calls them old-fashioned and kicks them out of his office. I’ve got to admit, while this is not how I think any professional should handle the situation, this is often what’s going on in creative’s head when met with this type of reaction!
This failed pitch stands out to me because I feel that every creative has worked with a client that doesn’t share their vision. It can be incredibly frustrating but it’s not because the client is necessarily right or wrong. It’s not a matter of being right or wrong but about being on the same page as the client.
We’ve learned this lesson (the hard way) and now we try to not collaborate with clients who do not trust or share our studio’s vision for a design project. Kicking clients out is frowned upon at Blinebury Design!
Jantzen‘s mid-century advertising was definitely not as prudish as described in this Mad Men episode. On the contrary, many of their real advertisements featured women in submissive roles. The ad above looks like this girl is literally being carried away for some man’s enjoyment.
4. The Music
Season 4, Episode 3
There are so many amazing musical moments on this show but one that really stands out to me is during Don’s trip to California to see Anna Draper. By the end of the episode we realize this will be the last time that Don and Anna see each other and the audience knows this will be a significant loss for Don. Anna is one of the only women in his life to truly accept him for everything he is and isn’t.
During a dinner out, Anna’s niece Stephanie plays “Old Cape Cod” by Patti Page on the jukebox. I don’t know how to really describe why this song has stayed with me, but I listen to it often. Let’s just say, I need to schedule a visit to Cape Cod.
One of my go-to Spotify playlists is the full Mad Men soundtrack featuring every track in order (I’m listening to it as I write this blog). The only track I would remove (and I imagine many agree with me) is “The Infanta” by The Decemberists. Matthew Weiner got sassy with this move, but mixing contemporary music in this beautiful period piece was a #totalfail. Luckily it was a minor blip in an otherwise amazing television soundtrack. Enjoy!
For more Mad Men tunes, check out this official playlist featuring curated songs for each of the main characters.
5. So many Dresses!
Every Season, Every Episode
As with the music, there are so many great fashion moments to share! Episode after episode, Mad Men delivered an abundance of full floral skirts, rich tweeds and colorful patterns. Watching the shift in fashion trends for both the female & male characters has been a delight for the eyes. And while the mid-century suiting is beautiful to see, for me it’s all about the ladies. Here are my favorite looks from the entire series for each of the main female characters:
Peggy Olson’s Pant Suit
Get it girl! Peggy’s clothing throughout the show has always felt significant and her pant suit clearly marked the beginning of a new era—for her character and for women. Peggy’s wardrobe has certainly been the least drool-worthy, but it’s always helped to tell her story.
Jane Sterling’s Maxi Dress
There are no words other than the following: I want this dress. I’m a dork and always watch the behind-the-fashion videos that AMC posts about each episode. This dress was in fact vintage (the show typically features a mix of vintage pieces and new pieces in the mid-century style) and it’s a stunner!
Jane wears this dress to Don’s birthday party, during which her and then-husband Roger have one of the best exchanges—
Roger: “Why don’t you sing like that?” (referring to Megan)
Jane: “Why don’t you look like him?” (referring to Don)
Megan Draper’s “Zou Bisou Bisou” Dress
In the same episode that features Jane Sterling’s gorgeous maxi dress, Megan Draper wears a super-mini black dress. This pick is weak as I would guess everyone remembers this dress, but it was really epic. This dress is another vintage find and the Mad Men costume designers added the long sheer sleeves for some extra as Megan performs “Zou Bisou Bisou.”
Honorable Mention: Megan’s Coral Chevron Jacket
I’m not the biggest fan of the 70s-style fashion that Megan comes to embody later in the series. I’m drawn much more to the 60s dresses because I prefer their silhouettes, patterns and color combinations. Megan’s gorgeous chevron jacket needs to be recognized!
Betty Draper’s “Gonna Leave My Husband” Floral Dress
When it comes to Betty Draper, I’m a sucker for all of the dresses she wore in the early seasons. In my opinion, the bigger the skirt the better when it comes to Birdie! However, this brightly colored floral dress was divine. She wears some killer sunglasses in the episode as well and I would wear this outfit every day of spring if I could. Can I?
Betty’s Italian ensemble was a highlight for sure and a look that many viewers remember. I loved that look, but I had to go classic Betty with my pick.
Rachel Menken’s Statement Accessories
Rachel Menkin is the queen of the statement accessory. There’s not much else to say! That hat? I just imagine that if this character was around today, all of her Instagram pics would include #iwokeuplikethis.
Fun fact: I read recently that Sarah Silverman could’ve auditioned for this role. Her interview about this missed opportunity is pretty fantastic!
Sally Draper’s Eyebrows
Those are some amazing eyebrows right? Over the seasons, Sally has sported some really great rompers and dresses but I am personally loving her teenage angst and the outfits that go along with it! This look from the first half of the final season really captured the fact that Sally is all grown up. I fill in my eyebrows so that they look like that!
Every Dress Worn by Joan Harris née Holloway
They call her “red” for a reason folks. Joanie’s early Mad Men style has a very clear formula: form-fitting + bright color = success. I covet Joan’s closet more than any of the other characters, so picking one look was impossible. Red is Joan’s signature color but she has sported a variety of bold jewel tones. Her purple-on-purple outfit has always stood out to me as well (a significant look for that episode as well for all you hard-core fans who remember what happens). As the show has moved into the later 60s, Joanie’s look has gotten a bit softer but her silhouette has remained body conscious. I will take one of everything please.