Mad Men Aesthetic Accuracy


Though I had heard from many that the series Mad Men takes television period drama aesthetics to a whole new level, it definitely took watching a complete episode to fully appreciate just how intricate and visually striking these scenes really are. I found an interesting interview with Scott Buckwald, the prop master for the show (, and, despite now having seen the convincing set designs for myself, I was amazed at what lengths Buckwald goes to in trying to create as realistic a set as possible – even if it means recreating a cheesecake box from scratch or spending hours on the internet searching for a single wardrobe bag. Though Mad Men certainly has received much praise for these sorts of efforts, I’m thinking that the majority of viewers wouldn’t notice the difference between a 1960s bakery box and one you might find in a bakery today. So why spend money and time on such minute details? Having such limited exposure to Mad Men, I’m not sure that I really have the greatest answer to this question. It does seem rather obvious, though, that these elements easily feed into a show that is so heavily based on appearances and their deceptive nature. As previous posts have already mentioned, the polite and straight-edged fashions and styles are merely facades masking the lewd and corrupt. Such images often starkly contrast the rude and sexist dialogue being spoken.

I found the overt sexist imagery in the show to be very interesting. Characters are constantly making statements and observations that make the modern viewer cringe in disgust, however the incredibly accurate aesthetic portrayal of women also highlights what could be considered flaws of our current age. For example, the women that are most often sexually objectified are not stick-thin waifs, they are in fact quite curvaceous. The dancer from the club scene has a body type that many modern women would work to get rid of. In this way, we see the detailed Mad Men imagery contrasting and in a way commenting on the images of our own time, and thus add an interesting dimension to Mad Men as a series of the late 2000s.


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