Don, Betty and Jackie Kennedy: On Mad Men and Periodisation

Prudence Black, Catherine Driscoll

Abstract

Why is it that we watch Mad Men and think it represents a period? Flashes of patterned wallpaper, whiskey neat, babies born that are never mentioned, contact lining for kitchen drawers, Ayn Rand, polaroids, skinny ties, Hilton hotels, Walter Cronkite, and a time when Don Draper can ask ‘What do women want?’ and dry old Roger Sterling can reply ‘Who Cares?’ This essay explores the embrace of period detail in Mad Men finding it to be both loving and fetishistic, and belonging, like all period film, to the politics of the present.

Keywords

period TV; style; 1960s US; politics

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