14 things to read about Mad Men

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Mad Men is reaching its end and as the airing of the last episode comes closer, I feel more and more like Don Draper: I wonder what will become of my future, my days are meaningless, emptiness invades my life.

This series is one of those (few) series you can watch again and again and find new meanings and nuances that the first time had gone unnoticed. Matthew Weiner was able to slide plot keys in seemingly innocent but loaded with content places. Clothes on the floor, a shelf that seems to collapse, a wine-stained carpet. Everything means something.

Throughout these years hundreds of articles have been written on the series, every millimeter of each frame has been analyzed with the hope of finding out who is Don Draper. Instead of writing another article, I have decided to select some interesting pieces and interviews I’ve been reading over these past seven seasons. I have included some articles that I wrote in the blog too.

edward-hopper-wallpaperEdward Hopper’s influence on the aesthetics of the series
Alienation, anxiety and loneliness of Hopper’s paintings marked the cinema of the 40s, especially Hitchcock (as seen in Rear Window). The aesthetics of the American painter returns to our screens through Mad Men. A good analysis of the numerous references written by Carlos Reviriego.

8003_G27_fr46.tifFrom the beginning
Mad Men creators talk about the evolution of the series, from the first drafts until now.

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About tales and short stories in the structure of the script
A great article by Enrique Vila-Matas about the fragmentation of the stories inside the series, where each moment can be appreciated as an independent story.

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The movies that defined Mad Men
The films you have to see to understand the visual aesthetics of the series. North by Northwest, The Apartment, Vertigo… As recommended by Matthew Weiner.

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The decorations, the furniture and the interior design
An analysis about most iconic decorations of the series, their meaning on the story and their relation to the characters through their evolution. This video is great too.

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16 things you can learn thanks to Mad Men
Keep a change of clean clothes in your office, be mysterious, pretend to shoot your neighbor’s pigeons to release stress, and other lessons by the Draper family.

Captura de pantalla 2015-04-27 a la(s) 00.27.26Sally
Matthew Weiner and Kiernan Shipka (Sally in the series, what a great character), talk about what it means to grow up on the screen. 

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Behind the cameras
Great photographs James Minchin taking during the filmings.

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The costumes
Janie Bryant, costume designer, explains the details behind some of the most iconic outfits (there are just so many).

120326_mad-men-13_p323 copiaIt’s toasted’
The real ads that were published in The New Yorker during the time that the series takes place.

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The editorial by Annie Leibovitz
A couple of years ago, Annie Leibovitz photographed January Jones and Jon Hamm as Betty and Don for Vanity Fair. The result is just astounding

don-draper-women-00The women of Don Draper
A walk through all the feminine characters in Don’s life, in illustrations.

madmen-annieleibovitz3Life cost
How much would you have to pay to live in an apartment like Peggy’s today? And for the three Martinis they have at lunches with clients? Here you have a price index to get an idea. 

dondraperinfernoWhat’s reading Don Draper?
An exhaustive list of every book that has appeared on the series. Included those on the shelves whose titles you can barely distinguish.

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‘That looks like a Black Mirror episode…’

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How many times have you said that when reading the news? Life is increasingly transforming into a Black Mirror episode. The series created by Charlie Brooker (those who haven’t watched it, please do), explore the impact of technology and development by taking it to extreme effects: ocular implants that track everything we see and allows us to visualize our memory by projecting it on our retinas (again and again), artificial intelligence beings to replace deceased loved ones, macabre political figures who manage to attract thousands of voters, replicas of us in cookies, a world in which money is generated by exercising in the gym… After watching an episode you want to delete your Facebook account and get rid of your smartphone.

The phenomena that the series illustrates seems exaggerated, but the fact is that every day there are things happening that could have come from a script of the series. The Google Glasses are the first logical step towards those visual memory chips, there are people  addicted to running and ‘fuel points’ already, there are numerous experiments with artificial intelligence derived from data analysis, and an endless etc. No further, the Sony hack story has all the ingredients for a perfect episode: hackers from a dictatorship, a powerful industry (Hollywood) that succumbs to them, secrets aired, debates on freedom of expression …

As an exercise in news curation, I have created a Tumblr, ‘Black Mirrored’, where I am publishing links to real news that could belong to a Black Mirror episode (with no intention of being alarmist, just as an experiment). You are welcome to suggest any articles you may find relevant!

PS: Don’t miss Brooker’s articles in The Guardian.

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