Nancy Roman

“Mad Men”- or – “I’m Mad At Men”

I am not always the hippest person when it comes to pop culture – which you probably can tell because  I used the word ‘hippest.’ At least I didn’t use ‘hep.’

Although I follow Fashion as my religion (at least for a woman my age; I would certainly never claim to be as smart as a teenager), I am not always sure who it is that I am following.  I love Kate Beckinsale’s sensual style. Just don’t ask me who she is.


Anyway, what I am trying to explain is why I am only now discovering “Mad Men.”

I’d heard of it of course. And I’m kind of surprise that I wasn’t immediately interested. I spent a good deal of my career working in television, and most of it predicting whopping advertising sales. (It was Sports. Beer paid my salary.) And my husband sold print advertising. You’d think we’d both be fascinated by a show about the advertising industry.

And then of course there’s the “period piece” aspect of “Mad Men.”  I mean, we are both period pieces ourselves. With a nostalgia for the sixties. The biggest friction in our marriage is the battle between The Beach Boys and The Beatles.

I’d been meaning to give “Mad Men” a try. But I could never find it. There must be something very compelling on opposite. Maybe “Toddlers and Tiaras” or “Pawn Stars.”

But Hurricane Sandy changed all that. We lost electricity for several days. Not a problem, though, because we have a big generator. So we had power to the TV – which is right up there with the well and the refrigerator.

But no cable.  Yikes.

So I bit the bullet and joined Netflix.

And we watched some movies and then an episode of “Mad Men.”

And we were hooked. We watched a whole season that week.

WordPress is suggesting I add a photo here.

Here it is:

Mad (magazine)

Mad (magazine) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WordPress’ algorithm must be as much of a period piece as I am.

Back to “Mad Men.”

Mad Men, Not Mad Magazine

Mad Men, Not Mad Magazine

In the second episode, my husband and I started screaming at each other, “Look at the wall! Look at the wall!”  There was his mother’s gold “tree sculpture” wall art spreading its 1960 limbs all across the living room set.  That sculpture was still giving me the creeps in my mother-in-law’s parlor in 2003.

I love that kind of kitschy accuracy.

Of course, it isn’t completely accurate.  Sterling Cooper’s staff discussed Marilyn Monroe’s death before they discussed the Bay of Pigs. (It’s possible that they discussed the Bay of Pigs sixteen months late because they had been busy at the office. And it’s possible I watched the episodes out of order. But I don’t think so.)

I love the old undergarments. It is so cool to see Big Girl panties (like I still wear) and a full slip. I wore a full slip until 1968. If you think your bra straps fall down a lot – you should see how slip straps slip.

My husband likes Joan’s breasts.

And he likes the old-fashioned ideals.

Like in the episode we watched last week. We have been able to catch up by watching two episodes in a row on Saturday nights. (That way we don’t miss “Pawn Stars.”) So we are now up to Season 5, and it’s 1966.  Sterling Cooper Whatever has taken out a stupid want ad in order to shame their competitors,and as a result, they have an office full of African-Americans applying for a job. So the company has shamed itself into taking the ad seriously. And they do. Roger informs all the applicants that they have a position open for a secretary, and so all the men can leave.

Yup, that’s Equal Opportunity.

And I remarked to my husband, “Remember when the jobs were listed in the paper under “Help Wanted-Male” and “Help Wanted-Female”?  I can’t believe I looked for a job that way and never realized how crazy it was.”

And he said, “It wasn’t crazy. There was nothing wrong with that.”

Trying to keep my face from becoming too purple, I took a breath and said, “Come on, how many jobs really require you to be a man or a woman?”

“Lots,” he said – just because he is going through his contradictory-ass phase. (I am hoping that he has only two more years in this phase, but I have heard from my mother it usually lasts for ten.)

“Name One,” I respond.

“Football Player.”

Oh yeah. The NFL always recruited via the Help Wanted ads.

help wanted male.jpg


  1. I still haven’t started watching the series. I guess I need to! Because I think we had one of those sculptures, too.


    • It always reminded me of those evil trees in The Wizard of Oz.


  2. MAybe I should watch Mad Men so I can see my Mother in law’s living room, too. It is a period room, circa 1962 or 63. No metal tree sculture, though! I guess she liked the look and never changed it….


    • My mother has framed figurines of leaping ballet dancers – antique white frames, pink dancers, black velvet background. She made them in ceramics class when I was around eight. I am 62. But they are as timely as they ever were.


  3. We just watched Mad Men this winter. Our library has the series, and waiting for the volumes to arrive in order is irritating. Maybe we’ll tackle it again soon. I did like it. I had forgotten how ubiquitous smoking used to be.


    • Everyone smoked. And apparenty drank at the office. I am not sorry that smoking has left the building. Sometimes I am sorry that drinking has.


  4. Wow…I had no idea that jobs were listed that way. I would be interested in seeing one of those help wanted ads so I can set fire to it.


    • You can safely assume that none of the good jobs were listed under “Help Wanted – Female”.


  5. Laurie MacKellar

    I’m going to check the old newspapers from the 60’s and see how the help wanted ads were arranged


  6. I haven’t watched the show but I’ve seen the clothes and ‘accessories’ featured in various print ads and articles – it’s like an eerie blast from the past. And I recall those ‘Help Wanted – Female’ ads, too – they were usually for secretaries, nurses, teachers, bank tellers, hairdressers, or retail sales help; the ‘Male’ ads were for jobs like engineers, managers, factory workers, mechanics and other trades. It was really rare to see a woman in any kind of ‘powerful’ job back then (although we all know who REALLY ran the offices, don’t we?).



    • Yes, secretarial jobs. The lowest pay. The least respect. And telephone operators! My first real job was for the phone company. When the first man joined our ranks, everyone wondered why he would want such a low-paying job. But I figured – just let a couple more guys join us, and the pay will start to go up. And it did.


  7. My best friend’s parents had two framed pictures in their living room (1960 era). One was John Kennedy and the other was the pope. In plastic frames of course. I don’t know which they worshiped more. They missed the sculpture thingie.


    • My mother said that in the 30’s, the picture of Roosevelt was right next to the one of Jesus.


  8. My sister pointed out that people didn’t drink wine regularly back then, like one of the women does in the show. It was always mixed drinks. Wine was exotic.


    • You’re right! My aunts always used to have a “highball” – whatever that was.


      • A highball, I think, was a drink that had a mixer in it and took up more room than a lowball, which is close to being a grounder, in baseball. It was also a straight shot of whiskey, if I’m not mistaken. There were even two types of glasses: highball and lowball. Although, I’m not sure about the last one; it might have been called a “rocks” glass. No, I’m not currently drinking.


  9. I’m a huge Mad Men fan…remembering to much of the history as an integral part of my childhood!! As I read this – I thought that my kids (this next generation) have no idea about any of this male/female job possibility…and how lucky they are!! As always – you made me laugh!


    • I’m sure your children think they are watching fiction. Little do they know!


  10. I was a secretary in the 60s and let me say, everything the Mad Men series show is for REAL. I have only watched less than a half-dozen. Maybe I will find time to watch all of the series sometime. Oh the way guy used to stare at women and make remarks too…
    Anyway, I want to mention that in the early 70s, I made deliveries to a plant office where the Manager had a MALE secretary. Never found out why. Maybe he didn’t trust women or didn’t think any woman was SMART enough to work for HIM? Ha-ha.


  11. I don’t know. Give it 20 more years, and maybe even football players won’t be separated by gender.


  12. I never watched the show, I think I have a problem with simply sitting down and figuring out when cult shows are on. Perhaps I shoud, but I am afraid I will see my parents.

    The NFL? Bwwwaaahh. I do so love this, perhaps if they advertished the Cowboys would get a better pick. I digress.


  13. I watched the pilot of this series and fell in love with it…for all the same reasons you did. My years in TV and working with Ad Agencies and all the “period piece” aspects of it. Unfortunately, my husband didn’t get my fascination with it and we never watched it again because there was always something else on he wanted to watch. Someday I will do what you have done and have a marathon “Mad Men” watching session.
    Help Wanted – Female…I remember those days. Our choices were slim. Waitress, secretary, hostess. I think they still do this, they just don’t put it in writing anymore.


    • It’s not in writing, but it’s often still there. And jobs that post a salary range? The bottom is for the women who apply. The top is for applicants with a dick.


  14. Al

    I would really have believed that football ad if it had been the NY Jets instead of the Giants.


  15. I haven’t watched the show…yet. but, I do remember the ads. jesus. is that possible? when did they stop doing that? I guess I was a really early reader? of classifieds?


  16. Deb

    Nancy, sorry to be off-topic but know no other way to contact you except comments. I think your rss feed either has a glitch or is being hacked because when I logged into my reader today all the posts I had already read and checked-off as read had duplicate new (as in unchecked-off) posts. I thought you would want to know.


  17. Oh, no! Can you really mean my tree sculpture is out of style? Wait a minute…I just checked, and it’s not a tree at all, it’s a branch of magnolia blossoms. Whew!


  18. Now I really must watch MadMen! 🙂


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