Monday, March 03, 2008

Bad Men

One of the real shocks in the series Mad Men (the portrayal of Madison Avenue in 1960, now showing on BBC Four, 10pm Sundays) is the anti-semitism. In my naïve little way, I had a picture of the New York ad industry of the period as being predominantly Jewish. But in the pre-Kennedy world of leading character Don Draper and his associates, the Big Apple is split between the 'Jewish' agencies who deal with Jewish clients and the non-Jewish agencies like his, who don't.

The attitudes to women also leave a fair bit to be desired. While we might guess that the secretaries would be subject to unwanted sexual advances in the testosterone-charged agency, the local gynaecologist expects to conduct an internal examination before issuing a prescription for the pill. And he likes to puff on a cigarette while he does it.

The show's researchers have taken a large dose of a pill marked authenticity. Enovid was approved as a contraceptive in 1960 by the US Food and Drug Administration, but had been used quite widely in the preceding years under the cover of treating menstrual disorders. Now that's what I call period detail.

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