there's probably not a more stylish show on television
By Mark A. Newman - images courtesy of Lionsgate
Not since the debut of The Sopranos has a cable drama gotten so much high praise and been on as many “best of” lists as AMC’s Mad Men, now available on DVD from Lionsgate. However, Mad Men did something The Sopranos never could—it won the best drama Emmy Award. Mad Men harks back to a different time—1960—where Madison Avenue ad execs had fully stocked bars in their offices, smoked incessantly, and routinely harassed their secretaries. These were the good old days?
Co-starring New Orleans son Bryan Batt as Salvatore Romano, the characters in Mad Men are slick, savvy, ambitious, and nothing like the ad agency Darren worked for in Bewitched…except for the greasy hairstyles. As the season progresses, Salvatore, the agency’s art director, turns out to be quite an enigma, and Bryan plays him with a debonair suaveness that belies his true character…or does it?
There’s probably not a more stylish show on television but it is populated with characters that are pretty hard to warm up to with the exception of new secretary Peggy Oleson. By the end of the first season, Peggy has become a junior copywriter—a rarity in those days—and has a surprise in the season’s last episode that will surely cause ripples through the offices of the Sterling Cooper ad agency.
Mad Men is a compelling look into a bygone era that was at once a beginning and an end, but has taken over 40 years to be fully appreciated. This show is yet another example of how cable is becoming the showcase for truly original television programming while the major networks continue to revel in dreck like Two and a Half Men and an endless stream of reality freak shows. If only Freaks & Geeks or Arrested Development had debuted on cable then we’d truly be in a golden age of television.
Published in the Holiday 2008 issue
Picked by Mark A. Newman
Bryan—pictured here with his dog Peggy—has sold out audiences with his cabaret act at the Metropolitan Room in New York titled, Bryan Batt: Live at the Met. Broadway credits include La Cage Aux Folles, Beauty and the Beast, Saturday Night Fever, Sunset Blvd., and Cats, to name a few.
Read the Southern Breeze profile on Bryan Batt now!