Life imitates art, you know? Television is a funny thing in the way that it influences society.
After first watching CSI, I had an epiphany. I was going to be a crime scene investigator, and spend my days spitting out snappy one-liners, and I’d dye my hair orange, and be just like the guy on TV. That dream was crushed when I learned about all of the silly science stuff that goes along with being a ‘Forensic Scientist’. Whatever. I’m sure the CSI ripple effect was felt in universities around the world, as more capable students than I applied to get their BA in Horatio Caine. Today, if I were to go back to school and change it all, I would definitely be gunning to sit on the Iron Throne in Winterfell.
AMC’s Mad Men is arguably one of the best shows on television. Mad Men is on its 5th season, has won every TV award under the sun, and has a strong following of loyal viewers. Watching these agency types sip whiskey, smoke cigarettes, and sleep with beautiful women, all while wearing the best fitting vintage suits with the most immaculate hair, makes advertising seem like the ideal work environment. Especially for impressionable young men. With a show so based on aesthetic and attitude, mad boys (like me) are doing all that they can to become Mad Men. To become Dylan Draper.
Unfortunately, it’s 2012, which means you can’t drink double bourbons at 10 AM. You can’t romance the secretaries; you can’t light a smoke while insulting your staff.
But some things also haven’t changed. Watching Mad Men has brought an awareness to the general public, shining light on different positions within advertising, and showing how “cool” the industry actually is, outside of just the substance abuse and intercourse.
Don Draper is dead. Well, not really, at least we haven’t seen that far into the show. But the idea of Don Draper no longer exists. A good advertiser is no longer defined by the suits that he wears, or the cars that he drives. Ad men are sober(er) today, and spend the bulk of their time trying to come up with good ideas, rather than ogling good looking women. And women, yes, are no longer confined to just the paper pushing closet. They hold huge rolls too.
Even though Mad Men isn’t the reality, it’s definitely entertaining. And, despite the fact that we’ve since come up with much more innovative ways to approach projects and problem solve than the boys at BBDO, we still can’t help but ask, just sometimes, what would Don Draper do?