I'll just start off telling you that I - among thousands of others - am in the running for a shot at getting a walk on role as an extra on this, my favorite show. First I'll tell you why I'm so taken with this thing, and at the bottom of the page there's a link to go vote.
A friend of mine is a big fan of The Sopranos. I am too. When I told him that I like Mad Men more, he was taken aback and asked me how this could be. the answer was clear just as I said it. Sopranos is a very sharp intelligently written show about stupid people. Mad Men is a very sharp and intelligently written show about very sharp and intelligent people. In a couple cases, perhaps even brilliant people.
If you've somehow managed to miss the drift, Mad Men is set in the sixties (starting out in 1960, now as of the just premiered season four we're around 1965). But it's not a show about the sixties. Not really. It's not a nostalgic travelogue through a bygone era. The clothes are tremendous, the cars are impressive, the period is airtight. But this is not nostalgic. Nor is it intended to be some kind of deconstruction, a revealing of the dirty underside of something we would've held dear. All that's been done before. This is not that.
It's about the kinds of advertising executives that used to work on Madison Avenue. Sound riveting? It's not an easy sell if you haven't seen it. Which is why show producer Matt Weiner had to bust his ass as a writer on The Sopranos (see a trend?) in order to get the pilot made. AMC took a chance. I like to imagine that somewhere on that board of directors somebody was displeased enough with the continued loosening of what could be defined as a "classic" that they felt they had to do something to retain some class. Conan The Destroyer is a fun movie, but is it an American Classic? Would we really put that one in a time caspule to be buried for future civilizations to learn about us from? This show feels like real culture in a way few things do.
Mad Men is about a few different things, but principally you could say it's about lies. Lies we tell each other, lies we tell ourselves. We could call them "distortions," but really when you change a word like "lie" to a softer word you're just telling another lie, then another, until there's no more difference between perception and reality. Somewhere in that mix there's always a sales pitch.
These are all things implicit in the human condition, but when you involve the business of selling you start really getting it. The first thing any good salesman should know is that no matter what you're selling, ultimately, you're selling yourself. "You should buy this product because I believe in it." Do you believe in it? Fact is, you yourself don't even know the answer to that question. Put these pieces in motion with the American consumerist driven culture and you've got a real maelstrom. This is a show about the people adrift inside of it.
I'd like to portray one of them.